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Last Updated: Friday, 23 March 2007, 17:25 GMT
Plane 'shot down' in Somali city
An Ilyushin-76 plane Somalia. File photo
It is believed that the Ilyushin-76 had taken engineers to Somalia
A cargo plane carrying 11 people has been shot down after taking off from the main airport in the Somali capital Mogadishu, local officials say.

It crashed in the city's northern suburbs. Eyewitnesses said the plane plunged to the ground in flames.

"Three rockets were fired at the plane and one hit the plane," Somali government spokesman Hussein Mohamed Muhamoud told the AFP news agency.

It is not known if any of those on board survived the crash.

"This is an act that will not be accepted by the Somali people and government," Mr Muhamoud said.

I saw the plane on fire... One of the wings exploded in the air... When it hit the ground, another explosion occurred
Hassan Mahamud Jama, eyewitness
An airport worker and a local radio station were also quoted as saying that the plane was shot down by a missile.

Capt Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for Ugandan peacekeepers, who control the airport, said it was too early to tell what was caused the crash.

He said he believed the crew were nationals of Russia or Belarus.

Local officials were earlier quoted as saying that the plane had carried engineers and equipment to repair another aircraft at Mogadishu's airport.

They said they believed it was a Russian-made Ilyushin-76 cargo plane.

Local witnesses said they saw a plane on fire and later heard an explosion.

Mogadishu's international airport is located in the heart of the city.

'Large explosions'

Earlier, clan elders from the Hawiye clan which dominates Mogadishu said they had agreed a truce with the Ethiopian army, which helped install the government in the city last December.

However, some shooting continued in the south of the city.

One local resident said he had heard a number of large explosions and machine gunfire.

A government official, who did not want to be identified, told the BBC he had heard that Ethiopian tanks had been firing on buildings occupied by Islamist insurgents.

More than 20 people have died in clashes between insurgents and Ethiopia-backed government forces during two days of clashes - the heaviest fighting in the city this year.

Earlier this month, some 1,200 Ugandan peacekeepers arrived in the city to replace the Ethiopians who want to pull out.

Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991.




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