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Over 100 killed as military aircraft crashes near Boufarik Airport

AP Associated Press

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At least 105 people were killed when a military plane crashed soon after take-off in a farm field in northern Algeria, officials have said.

The cause of the crash was unclear, and an investigation has been opened, according to a Defence Ministry statement.

Emergency services converged on the area near the Boufarik military base after the crash.

The jet was carrying more than 200 servicemen, according to media reports.

An Algerian military source told Al-Hadath broadcaster that there were no survivors from the plane crash.

The jet crashed on Wednesday morning, shortly after taking off from Boufarik Airport, which is the base for the Air Transport fleet of the Algerian Air Force.

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The crashed plane was an Ilyushin Il-76 strategic airlifter, Algerian media report.

The base is only 20km from the Algerian capital of Algiers.

The flight had just taken off from Boufarik, about 30 kilometres south-west of the capital Algiers, for a military base in Bechar in southwest Algeria, Mr Achour said.

It was scheduled to make a layover in Tindouf in southern Algeria, home to many refugees from the neighbouring Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco.

The Soviet-designed Il-76 military transport plane crashed in an agricultural zone with no residents, Mr Achour said.

Four years ago a plane carrying military personnel and family members crashed in Algeria, killing 77 people.

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China conduct live fire drill along southeast coastline

Thompson Reuters

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BEIJING — China’s military has conducted live-fire drills along the southeast coastline, state television reported, but it was unclear if these were the same exercises that had been flagged as taking place in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

The government had said the drills would happen on Wednesday off the city of Quanzhou, in between two groups of islands close to China’s coast but that Taiwan has controlled since 1949 when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war.

Chinese state media has said the drills were a direct response to “provocations” by Taiwan leaders related to what China fears are moves to push for the self-ruled island’s formal independence. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory.

Late on Wednesday, Chinese state television showed footage of helicopters firing missiles during an exercise it said was happening on China’s southeast coast.

State television only showed pictures of helicopters, with no mention of ships or other military equipment such as tanks or amphibious assault vehicles.

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The exercises took place from 8 a.m. (0000GMT) until midnight, the report said, giving the same time frame for the previously announced drills in the Taiwan Strait.

The Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the exercise, and whether it was the same ones previously reported to be happening in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan on Wednesday denounced the exercises, saying Beijing was using “cheap verbal intimidation and saber rattling” to threaten the island.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bombers around the island.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday afternoon two Chinese H-6K bombers had flown around the island, passing first through the Miyako Strait to Taiwan’s northeast and then back to base via the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.

The latest Chinese military movements come during a time of heightened tension between Beijing and the island and follows strong warnings by Chinese President Xi Jinping against Taiwan separatism last month.

China claims Taiwan as its own and considers it a breakaway province.

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