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Belarus airline wins $1 mln damages for aircraft loss in Somalia

MINSK, March 14 (RIA Novosti) - Galaxy AIR FCZ, a UAE air freight company, has been ordered to pay Belarusian airline Transaviaexport over $1 million for damage caused to a cargo plane in war-torn Somalia in March 2007.

An Il-76 freighter, which was under lease from Belarus, came under rocket attack as it was preparing to land at Mogadishu airport in the Somali capital. The missile struck the aircraft at an altitude of 150 meters (450 feet), but the four-engine plane managed to land despite sustaining severe damage to the fuselage.

The crew and nine people on board were uninjured in the attack.

A Minsk court found that Galaxy Air FCZ violated the leasing contract with Belarus by sending the plane into a combat zone without warning Minsk and was, therefore, liable for damage to the freighter.

The incident took place three weeks before another Belarus-owned Il-76 was shot down during take off in Somalia, killing all 11 people on board, including seven crew members.

Somalia has been plagued by violence since former President Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. The civil war-torn East African state, which has no recognized central government, has also struggled to cope with famine and disease relying on UN aid.

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