Sudanese military plane crashes in west Darfour, 16 killed

CAIRO — Sudan's military says one of its aircraft has crashed in the western Darfour region on Thursday evening, killing all 16 people on board.

The military says several officers were among those killed when the plane went down in the restless region of West Darfour, which has recently witnessed deadly ethnic clashes.

The plane, a Russian Antonov An-12, crashed five minutes after taking off from the airport in the town of Genena. That's according to an army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Amer Mohammed al-Hassan who posted a statement late Thursday on the official Facebook page of the Sudan's armed forces.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the crash. there were no immediate reports of foul play. Al-Hassan said the casualties included seven troops, three judges and six civilians, including two children.

The town of Genena has recently witnessed clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs that killed at least three dozen people, including women and children, according to a health official and a local aid group who spoke to the Associated Press earlier this week.

On Thursday, the Red Crescent said that the casualty toll had jumped to 48 killed and 167 wounded in the violence. The clashes pose a challenge to efforts by Sudan's transitional government to end decades-long rebellions in areas like Darfur. In response rebel groups from Darfur pulled out of peace talks with the government and called for an investigation.

Earlier this week, Sudanese Prime Minister Hamdok and Gen. Mohammeed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the Sovereign Council, had visited the town and expressed their commitment to prosecute the perpetrators.

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