HAVANA — The Cuban government said Thursday that 26 Cuban soldiers, including a general, were killed when their plane was shot down by mistake by Cuban anti-aircraft batteries in southern Angola.
The unusually frank armed forces communique said that Brig. Gen. Francisco Cruz Bourzac was among the victims. He was Cuba's vice minister for armament and a member of the Communist Party central committee.
A colonel and a lieutenant colonel were also killed when the Soviet-built Antonov 26 twin-prop plane, on a scheduled flight to the town of Tchahutete, was hit by a missile as it was about to land Wednesday morning.
Anti-aircraft batteries were on alert because of the reported presence of enemy planes in the region--a reference to South African aircraft.
Last October, Cuba exhibited a similar openness toward its armed presence in Angola when it announced that a Cuban MIG-21 fighter plane had been shot down.
Cuba, Angola's closest ally since it gained independence in 1975, has about 40,000 troops stationed in the Marxist-ruled African nation.