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Plane crash kills 11 in Uganda

A CARGO plane carrying equipment for African Union peacekeepers in Somalia caught fire and crashed into Uganda's Lake Victoria shortly after takeoff yesterday, killing all 11 people on board, authorities said.

The victims were seven passengers ?? three Burundian military officers, two Ugandans, an Indian and a South African ?? and four Russian crew members, Information Minister Kabakumba Matsiko said.

The Ilyushin 76 was carrying water purifiers, pipes and other equipment for Ugandan troops who are part of an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, Ugandan army spokesman Major Felix Kulaigye said.

The cause of the crash was under investigation, the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority said. Kulaigye said witnesses reported seeing the plane catch fire in the air before it crashed into the lake.

Uganda has around 600 peacekeepers in Somalia, where the UN-backed government is battling an Islamic insurgency. It is preparing to send another 800 when funding for transport and logistics is in place.

The peacekeepers guard the airport, port and main buildings where the Somali government is based.

Burundi has 1,700 soldiers in Somalia. Burundi army spokesman Adolphe Manirakiza said the three Burundian soldiers included Brigadier General Ndikumana Salum, the deputy commander of Burundi's Somalia mission.


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