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
Maldives opposition legislator Ibrahim Mohamed Solih wins presidency
MALE — Maldives opposition legislator Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has beaten incumbent Abdulla Yameen according to provisional results, the country’s Elections Commission says.
Results released by the Elections Commission showed Mr Solih securing 133,808 votes (58.3 percent) compared to the 95,526 for incumbent Abdulla Yameen. The voter turnout was over 88 per cent out of the 262,000-strong electorate.
The Maldives government has acknowledged the opposition’s victory after the vote on Sunday, a surprise defeat for President Abdulla Yameen who was widely expected to win.
There were no other candidates.
Mr Solih had the backing of a united opposition trying to oust Mr Yameen, but struggled for visibility with the electorate, with local media fearful of falling afoul of heavy-handed decrees and reporting restrictions.
“I call on Yameen to respect the will of the people and bring about a peaceful, smooth transfer of power,” Solih said on television, shortly after interim results from the country’s election commission.
“We have won this election with a comfortable majority,” Solih said.Follow @gorkhapost