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Somalia Shuts Main International Airport After Crash Kills Four

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Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Somalia closed its main international airport after an Ethiopian military cargo plane crashed on landing, killing four crew members, officials said.

The aircraft burst into flames as it touched down this morning at Mogadishu International Airport, sending plumes of dark smoke into the air, Ali Mohamed, a police officer at the airport, said in an interview. Two crew members survived the crash and are being treated in a Mogadishu hospital, the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia said in an e-mailed statement.

The Ethiopian Air Force plane was carrying ammunition for use by AU peacekeepers in Somalia, Colonel Mahad Elmi, an airport security official, said in a phone interview.

The AU has deployed peacekeepers in Somalia to help the government fight al-Shabaab, an Islamist insurgency linked to al-Qaeda. Somalia is emerging from two decades of civil war that began when Mohamed Siad Barre, the former dictator, was overthrown.

Da’ud Ali, an airport employee, said the aircraft’s wings were on fire and smoke was billowing out of the plane’s undercarriage as it landed.

The cause of the crash was a “technical problem,” Deputy Information Minister Abdishakur Mire told reporters in the capital. All flights have been halted until further notice, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mohamed Sheikh Nor in Mogadishu via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net

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