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Cuban Batteries Shot Down Own Plane in Angola, Havana Says; 26 Killed

April 29, 1988|From Reuters

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.

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