Crash Kills Senior Lao Officials

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Senior officials in the government of Laos, including its defense chief Douanchy Phichit and head of security Thongbane Sengaphone, were killed in the crash of a government aircraft Saturday. At least five people, all of them ranking officials of the authoritarian government, were killed. There were 18 people aboard the AN-74TK-300, a Ukraine-built 50-passenger regional jet. The crash occurred near Nadee village in Xiangkhoung province in the northern part of he country.

The crash occurred while the aircraft was on approach to an airport but there was no immediate word on the circumstances. The passengers were on their way to a government ceremony in the area. The flight originated in the country's capital of Vientiane. Laos is a secretive country and details of the crash are not being discussed openly by the government, which exercises strict control over the media.