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Ten Die in Congo Plane Crash

April 20, 2000

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) _ Six Rwandan army officers and four Russian crew members died when the plane they were traveling in crashed on takeoff in southern Congo, an army spokesman said Thursday.

The plane crashed Wednesday on its way to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, where the Rwandan officers were to attend a weekend swearing-in ceremony for President-elect Paul Kagame.

The army spokesman, Maj. Emmanuel Ndahiro, said a bird apparently flew into one of the engines of the Russian Antonov-8 aircraft.

The plane crashed and burst into flames while attempting an emergency landing at an airport in Pepa, on the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika, he said.

Rwandan troops are fighting in Congo in support of rebels opposed to President Laurent Kabila. A cease-fire was declared in Congo last week to allow the deployment of a 5,500-strong U.N. observer mission and troops to protect them.

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