Sudan military plane crashes near capital, kills 15

KHARTOUM Sun Oct 7, 2012 12:45pm EDT

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KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A Sudanese military plane carrying personnel and equipment to the strife-torn Darfur region crashed near the capital Khartoum on Sunday killing 15 people on board, the army said.

The plane's engine stopped working and the pilot was trying to make an emergency landing when it went down about 40km (25 miles) southwest of the Khartoum suburb of Omdurman, state news agency SUNA reported.

The Antonov 12 transport plane was travelling to El Fasher in northern Darfur, military spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid said.

Thirteen people initially died and nine were injured in the crash, all of them military personnel, he added. Two of the injured later died of their wounds, SUNA reported.

There have been several crashes in Sudan in recent years, where years of U.S. sanctions have made it difficult for airlines to get spare parts for their fleets. Antonov aircraft are Russian built however and not subject to sanctions.

The plane belonged to Azza Air, the state-linked Sudanese Media Centre reported. An Azza cargo plane leased by Sudan Airways crashed in the United Arab Emirates in 2009.

In August, 32 people including a government minister died when a plane taking them to an Islamic festival crashed in a southern border state. State media blamed that accident on bad weather.

A military helicopter crashed in the country's North Kordofan state in December because of a technical failure, killing six crew members, the military said at the time.

The armed forces has formed a committee to investigate "the reasons for the recurrence of Antonov aircraft accidents", SUNA said.

Government forces have been battling an insurgency in Darfur since rebels took up arms in 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglecting the remote region.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz and Alexander Dziadosz; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Jon Hemming)

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