An Algerian military transport aircraft has crashed near its capital city Algiers killing 257 people on-board, officials from the country’s defence ministry said.
Algerian Civil Protection Agency chief spokesman Mohammed Achour was reported by Evening Standard as saying that the aircraft met with the accident moments after taking off from the Boufarik military base, which is located about 20 miles south-west of Algiers.
Reported to be a Russian-built Ilyushin Il-76, the aircraft was bound for the southwestern city of Bechar and had Algerian military personnel and passengers on-board.
Algerian Defense Ministry was quoted by Washington Post as saying: “The number of martyrs has risen to 247 passengers and 10 members of the crew, most of whom are members of the army as well as their families.”
Passengers on-board the flight included members of Western Sahara’s Polisario independence movement, which, supported by Algeria, is focused on seeking independence for the territory.
Western Sahara is a disputed territory that was taken possession of by Morocco after Spain withdrew in 1975.
While the major reason behind the crash is not yet clear, an inquiry has been launched to find out the cause of the incident.
In 2014, a Hercules C-130 military transport aircraft, with members of the Algerian Air Force and their families on-board, crashed in the east of the country with 77 passengers dead, reported CNN.