19 December 2012

Sudanese Military Jet Crashes, Pilot Dies After 'Successful Mission' - Army Says

Khartoum — The Sudanese military has announced that one of its MiG jet fighters crashed on Wednesday's afternoon in the country's southern region of North Kordofan, killing its pilot after he carried out a "successful" mission.

This is the third plane crash in the space of three months in Sudan, and the latest in the country's long string of similar mishaps. An unmanned military aircraft crashed in the country's capital Khartoum last week. A military Antonov plane crashed in the conflict-hit region of South Kordofan in October this year, killing 12 passengers on board.

A statement from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) said that plane crashed as a result of a "technical glitch" and after its pilot successfully carried out the mission assigned to him.

The statement added that the jet fighter crashed as it attempted to land in the airport of Al-Obaied, the provincial capital of North Kordofan State.

"The crash-landing in Al-Oabied led to the burning of the aircraft and martyrdom of its pilot First-Lieutenant Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed Ahmad who is renowned for his competency and executions of military tasks with great courage" the statement said.

However, an eye witness of the accident gave Sudan Tribune a different account of what happened. According to the source, who asked not to be named, the plane crash landed after minutes from taking off not during landing. He added that the fuselage crashed to pieces and that the pilot sustained severe injuries and died on the way to Al-Obaied hospital.

The witness said that the commander-in-chief of SAF's fifth infantry division and North Kordofan governor arrived on the scene shortly after the crash. The army commander refused to comment to journalists on the reasons behind the accident and ordered to prevent any photo-taking.

Earlier this week, rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), which has been fighting the government in the neighboring state of South Kordofan since last year, alleged that they downed an Antonov military plane while it was bombing their areas.

Last week, the New York-based Human Rights Watch accused Sudan's air force of indiscriminate aerial bombing and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

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