Azeri Il-76 plane might have been shot down by Taliban militants – experts.

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BAKU, July 9 (Itar-Tass) — Azerbaijan’s Il-76 cargo plane that crashed in Afghanistan on July 6 might have been shot down by Taliban gunmen, Ilham Amirov, the head of the commission probing into the crash, told a news conference on Saturday, adding that this is the most probable reason.

Members of the commission, who have arrived in Afghanistan, are trying to reach the crash scene and for these ends are negotiating with locals, Amirov, who is also a deputy director general of Azerbaijan Airlines, said. Some sources say there are combat operations in the vicinity of the crash scene and nobody can offer security guarantees to the Azeri experts, he noted.

According to Amirov, photos of the scene “leave almost no doubt that all the nine crew members have died.”

“Our priority task now is to deliver their dead bodies to Baku and find out what caused the crash,” he said and noted that under international convention the investigation is within the competences of the party, on which territory the accident occurred.

“They [the Afghan side] so far are probing into the accident independently. But Azeri specialists are currently in Afghanistan and are among members of the Afghan commission,” Amirov said.

In the mean time, the president of Silk Way Co, which owned the crashed plane, Zaur Akhundov, pledged a compensation of about 100,000 manats (or more than 120,000 U.S. dollars) will be paid to the families of each of the crew.

According to Akhundov, Silk Way made 1,700 flights to Afghanistan in 2010. “All flights have been suspended until the investigation is over,” he added.

According to Azeri experts, it is highly improbable that the Ilyushin-76 plane carrying 18 tons of humanitarian cargoes crashed because of a technical malfunction.

The Il-76 transport plane of the Silk Way private air carrier crashed near the Afghanistan’s Bagram airfield on July 6. The plane disappeared from the radar screens at 02:10 a.m. Baku time when it was approaching the Bagram airfield some six hours after the takeoff. The plane’s crew had not report any malfunction or emergencies before the crash. The aircraft was in good condition, having had two routine maintenance examinations this year, in February and in June. Four out of nine crew members were Azerbaijan’s subjects, the rest were citizens of Uzbekistan.

Azerbaijan’s aircraft are involved in deliveries of humanitarian cargoes to Afghanistan under a contract with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF).

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