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'One dead' as army helicopter crashes in Khartoum
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Apr 13, 2011 - 7:08:51 AM

'One dead' as army helicopter crashes in Khartoum

KHARTOUM A helicopter attempting to take off from the military airport in Khartoum crashed on Wednesday morning, killing one of three people on board after an engine caught fire, the army said.

An Mi24 helicopter belonging to the Sudanese air force tried to take off from the military airport in Khartoum but one of its engines caught fire, army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad said in a statement.

The training aircraft veered off the runway and crashed, killing one of the three crew and injuring the other two, he added.

A witness had earlier said the helicopter crashed on landing.

Sudan's military forces suffer from limited and outdated equipment, and plane crashes are common.

A similar accident took place as recently as December, when a military aircraft crashed during night-time training operations in Red Sea state, west of Port Sudan, although officials said both the crew survived.

Ten years ago, Sudan's deputy defence minister and 13 high-ranking military officers were killed in a plane crash on their return to Khartoum from oil-rich Upper Nile state, which now belongs to the soon to be independent south.

Sudan began exporting oil in 1999, and its hydrocarbons revenues have enabled the government to purchase modern military hardware, including Hind helicopter gunships, Antonov bombers and MiG-23 fighter planes, mostly from China and Russia.

But the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo in 2004, after fighting erupted between Darfur rebels and the government forces a year earlier.

A recent sign of the country's inferior military technology came with the surprise attack, last week, on a car 15 kilometres (9 miles) south of Port Sudan, thought to have been carried out by Israel.

Two AH-64 Apache helicopters were able to fly in from the Red Sea, on April 5, and unleash a barrage of Hellfire missiles and machine-gun fire on their target after jamming the local radar system, the foreign ministry said.

The United States suspended all military assistance to Sudan after the Islamist-backed military coup in 1989 that brought President Omar al-Bashir to power.

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