727 Seized At Zimbabwe Airport

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A Boeing 727-100 cargo aircraft with a U.S. registration number was seized by the government of Zimbabwe on Sunday. Officials said the 727 was carrying 64 suspected mercenaries and a cargo of military equipment. The 727 apparently had an N-number, but the Kansas company listed by the FAA as its owner said the aircraft was recently sold to a company called Logo Logistics -- it was unclear yesterday if that company was based in South Africa or the United Kingdom. This 727 apparently has no connection to the 727 that went missing in Africa last May after it took off from Angola. That airplane never arrived at its destination in South Africa and hasn't been seen since. The aircraft that landed at Harare International Airport on Sunday was detained because, according to authorities, its owners had made a false declaration of its cargo and crew. The aircraft apparently left South Africa from a remote airport, illegally bypassing international procedures, and the people on board were of various nationalities. The incident caused a flurry of confused reports for a couple of days, as authorities tried to untangle the purpose and origin of the flight, and early reports suggested that authorities in Zimbabwe suspected the airplane had a connection with the U.S. government, or that the mercenaries were planning a coup. On Tuesday, the airplane's owners reportedly said the men on board were en route to a mining operation where they were hired to work as security guards. No weapons were found aboard. The cargo included sleeping bags, army boots, satellite phones and radios. Yesterday, Zimbabwe's government warned that if the men are mercenaries, they could face the death penalty, according to the BBC.