Monday, February 18, 2008

For second time in five months, shots fired at U.S. plane in Mali

From the Associated Press:

Gunmen fired on a U.S. military aircraft flying food supplies to Malian troops in the far north of the country, but no one was injured in the attack and the plane landed safely, officials said Thursday.

U.S. Maj. Pam Cook, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military command in Stuttgart, Germany that covers Africa, confirmed the plane was shot at late Tuesday or early Wednesday over Tin-Zawatine, a desert village on Mali’s border with Algeria. The U.S. has provided military training to Mali and other African nations for years.

The plane was dropping food supplies to Malian soldiers, who have battled a nascent Tuareg rebellion in the northeast for months, according to a senior Malian military official who declined to be named because he is unauthorized to speak to the press.

The gunmen used AK-47s to fire on the plane, just after it had finished its final drop, the Malian official said. Cook declined to speculate on who fired on the plane and there was no claim of responsibility.

It was not the first time U.S. military aircraft was fired on in Mali. In September, Malian officials claimed – and U.S. officials acknowledged – that Tuareg rebels fired on an American military plane as it was dropping supplies.

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