ALGIERS — A total of 257 people were killed, most of them military, after an Algerian military plane crashed near an airbase outside the capital Algiers, according to officials.
The plane came down near Boufarif airport shortly after taking off. The dead include the plane’s 10 crew and 247 passengers, most of them members of the armed forces and their families, the defence ministry said.
Television footage showed crowds and emergency vehicles massing around the smoking and flaming wreckage near Boufarik airport southwest of Algiers.
A line of white body bags could be seen on the ground next to what media said was a Russian Ilyushin transport plane.
Ten crew and other people described as family members also died, and a number of survivors were being treated at an army hospital, the ministry added.
A member of Algeria’s ruling FLN party told the private Ennahar TV station the dead included 26 members of Polisario, an Algerian-backed group fighting for the independence of neighboring Western Sahara – a territory also claimed by Morocco in a long-running dispute.
The plane was heading to Tindouf, an area on Algeria’s border with Western Sahara, but crashed on the airport’s perimeter, Algeria’s defence ministry said.
Tindouf is home to thousands of refugees from the Western Sahara standoff, many of them Polisario supporters.
U.N. attempts to broker a settlement have failed for years in the vast desert area, which has contested since 1975 when Spanish colonial powers left. Morocco claimed the territory while Polisario established its self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic there.
Algeria’s defence ministry issued a statement expressing condolences to families of the victims.
An Air Algerie flight crashed in northern Mali carrying 116 passengers and crew, nearly half of them French, en route from Burkina Faso to Algeria in July 2014.Follow @gorkhapost
32 dead, 1 missing in Papua attacks, Indonesian police say
JAYAPURA, INDONESIA- Security forces tried to recover the bodies of 31 construction workers and a soldier who were killed in one of the worst separatist attacks in Indonesia’s restive province of Papua, officials said Tuesday.
Papua police spokesman Suryadi Diaz said 24 workers were killed on Sunday when gunmen stormed a government bridge construction project in a remote mountainous village in Nduga district.
Citing reports from several witnesses, Diaz said, eight other workers fled to the nearby house of a local parliament member, but an armed group came a day later and killed seven of them. However the eighth managed to escape and remains missing.
“This is the worst attack launched by the armed criminal group recently amid intensified development by the government,” Diaz told The Associated Press.
Separately, Papua province military spokesman Lt. Col. Dax Sianturi said an armed group attacked a military post in Mbua village in the same district late Monday, killing a soldier and injuring another.Follow @gorkhapost