Giant transport plane ‘linked to the Wagner army’ crashes in Africa, one month to the day after group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in an exploding business plane near Moscow
- Soviet-designed Il-76 crashed in Mali, where Wagner troops are stationed
A plane transport ‘linked to Wagner’ has crashed in Africa, a month after the mercenary group’s chief was killed in a jet explosion near Moscow.
The Soviet-designed Il-76 crashed in Mali, where private army troops are based.
It was close to Gao airport, a city on the front lines of the country’s long-running armed conflict.
Photos showed the stricken Ilyushin ablaze with black smoke, apparently after crashing after takeoff. The fate of those on board was unclear.
There were initially conflicting stories about whether there were Wagner people on board the plane.
It was close to Gao airport, a city on the front lines of the country’s long-running armed conflict
Gray Zone denied the plane belonged to Wagner, saying, “This chartered Il-76 aircraft was used by local forces to transport cargo for various purposes.
Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin speaks from an unspecified location in Ukraine before he was assassinated earlier this year
Telegram channel VChK-OGPU said: “According to preliminary data, mercenaries from PMC Wagner could be on board.”
Anti-government sources in Mali also claimed that the Il-76 may have been linked to Wagner.
This was denied by Gray Zone, another Telegram channel linked to Wagner.
Gray Zone denied that the plane belonged to Wagner, saying that “this chartered Il-76 aircraft was used by local forces to transport cargo for various purposes.
“There were no fighter planes or pilots from the Wagner group on board.”
Wagner is closely involved in military operations in Mali.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of private military contractor Wagner Group, looks from a military vehicle before his death in June
Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, and his top lieutenants were among 10 people killed in the crash northwest of the Russian capital in August
Another version was that the plane was used by UN peacekeepers.
“This aircraft was used to supply the Malian army in the first military district of El Muna,” a report said.
It was on August 23 that Wagner’s billionaire boss Yevgeny Prigozhin – once a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin – was killed when his Embraer Legacy 600 plane.
An explosion on the plane was suspected, and there were unsubstantiated claims that Prigozhin had been killed on Putin’s orders.
Dambiev’s pre-war Telegram channel said the crashed Il-76 was operated by a company from Belarus – a close Russian ally.
The company is called Ruby Star Airways and has its headquarters in Minsk.
After a failed coup in Russia in June led by Prigozhin, a number of Wagner troops were sent to Belarus.
A local source in Mali said: ‘A white plane missed landing and crashed near the airport.
“Shortly afterwards it burst into flames.”
Early reports suggest pilot error could have been the cause, denying the plane had been shot down.