Defense Ministry: 11 dead in Tunisia plane crash

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TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) -- A civilian aircraft crashed in a field near Tunisia's capital at dawn Friday, killing all 11 people on board, the defense ministry said.

A spokesman for the defense ministry, Tawfik Rahmouni, said the cause of the crash was not immediately known.

Online publication Assabahnews reported that the plane was a Russian-made Antonov specializing in medical transport, and was carrying two patients, a crew of six and three others.

The plane went down in a sparsely inhabited farming area in the Grombalia region, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of Tunis, the capital, and burst into flames. Army units and civil protection services rushed to the scene to put out the fire and extract bodies.

Amateur video showed images of the broken, burned aircraft with its tail bearing Libyan colors -- though the nationalities of the victims were not immediately clear.

Rahmouni told Mosaique FM that the crew had been in contact with Tunis-Carthage airport to say the plane's engines had caught fire before communication was lost. Investigators recovered the black box. The radio said the plane had originated in Mitiga, Libya.