COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) -- A Sri Lankan air force plane crashed today while trying to land, killing the four Russian crew members and all 36 military personnel aboard, air force officials said.
The AN-26, bringing troops home on leave from battling rebel guerrillas, was flying from Palaly air base to the capital, Colombo, 190 miles to the south, when it developed engine trouble, the air force said.
The pilot tried to land at Thalawa, 90 miles north of the capital. But just before the plane crashed, he reported one of his two engines was on fire, said Wing Cmdr. A. Wijesundera, an air force spokesman.
Sri Lanka air force leases several planes from a Ukrainian company that provides Russian crews.
Tamil Tigers rebels have in the past shot down several aircraft, but the exact cause of the accident was not known.
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