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Homeland Security

African and US Authorities Search for Missing Airliner

Voice of America

VOA News
11 Jun 2003, 20:26 UTC

U.S. and African officials are searching for a Boeing 727 airliner missing since it took off from a southern African airport more than two weeks ago.

In Washington Wednesday, U.S. officials said the disappearance of the jet was probably criminal in nature, but they could not rule out a terrorist connection.

Officials do not know where the jet went after it took off from the airport at Angola's capital, Luanda. U.S. officials say the airliner was last heard requesting clearance to land in the Seychelles, off the east African coast, but it never arrived.

Angolan officials say the plane had been parked at the airfield for more than a year for non-payment of millions of dollars in airport fees. The jet had been flown to Angola by a firm called Air Angola, which reportedly belongs to a group of current and former military officials.

Some U.S. officials suspect the plane was illegally flown off to avoid repossession, while others say it may have been crashed for insurance purposes. However, with recent intelligence uncovering an al-Qaida plot to crash an explosives-laden small airplane into the U.S. consulate in Pakistan, officials say they have to remain open to the possibility that terrorists may be involved in the plane's disappearance.

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