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Page last updated at 19:45 GMT, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 20:45 UK

Sudanese plane hijacked in Darfur

A Boeing 737 (generic image from Boeing website)
The plane is a Boeing 737

A Sudanese airliner hijacked shortly after take-off from Nyala, in Darfur region, has landed in Libya.

The plane was on its way to Khartoum, but has landed in the remote town of Kufra near the Libya-Sudan border, Sudanese aviation officials say.

The hijackers have asked for fuel to fly the plane, belonging to Sudanese airline Sun Air and with 95 people on board, to France.

Officials said members of a former Darfur rebel group were on the plane.

A Sudanese security official said a man with a knife had hijacked the plane, The Associated Press news agency reported.

Aviation officials said the plane, a Boeing 737, had landed at the Libyan oasis town of Kufra, in the desert near the border with Sudan.

Rebel denial

The three former rebels allegedly on board were originally said to be senior members of a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Arkou Minnawi.

Map

His group was the only one to sign a peace deal with the Khartoum government in 2006.

However, a spokesman for Minni Minnawi said his three associates had not taken part in the hijacking.

The AFP news agency then reported that the hijackers were members of a hard-line rebel group whose leader lives in France.

A five-year conflict in Darfur has left about 200,000 people dead and more than two million homeless.

Sudanese civil aviation officials told the BBC's Amber Henshaw in Khartoum that the plane had landed in Libya.

Arabic satellite network al-Jazeera said the plane initially tried to land in Cairo, Egypt, where it was denied permission to land.

The desert Oasis of Kufra is in a remote region approximately 1,700km (1,050 miles) south of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

It is an area close to both the Sudanese and Chadian borders, and is often used as a corridor for humanitarian aid for displaced Darfuri refugees in Chad, as well as a transit point into the country by illegal immigrants, says the BBC's Rana Jawad, in Tripoli.




SEE ALSO
Country profile: Sudan
15 Jul 08 |  Country profiles

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