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Mintid Farayar

Russia claims Somalia-bound military plane hit by missile

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Russia: Africa plane crash "likely" result of missile hit

15 March 2009

05:30 PM

BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union


© 2009 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved. No material may be reproduced except with the express permission of The British Broadcasting Corporation.


The Il-76 heavy-lift transport - with a Russian-Ukrainian crew - that crashed into Lake Victoria overnight from 8 to 9 March is "likely" to have been shot down with a missile, the airline's owner has said, as reported by the Russian state news agency ITAR-TASS on 15 March.


In a report from Pretoria, the news agency quoted Yevgeniy Zakharov, Aerolift owner, as saying that the Somalia-bound plane, with military personnel and cargo on board for the African Union peacekeepers, was "most likely to have been shot down with a missile".


"There is almost nothing left of the aircraft and its cargo. All the fragments the divers found take up an area roughly of six metres by six ashore," Zakharov told ITAR-TASS in a phone interview. The "only" thing that can produce an effect like this is "if a plane is hit by a rocket from a grenade launcher or a Stinger missile during take-off, when its tanks are virtually full, with tonnes of fuel aboard. Then, when it explodes, virtually everything burns down," Zakharov, fresh from a visit to the scene of the crash, said.


The ITAR-TASS report went on to quote Uganda's media about rumours of an imminent "Islamist" terrorist attack and of a subsequent claim of responsibility in the Internet by the "Islamic militants".


Source: ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1130 gmt 15 Mar 09

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