More than 180 people have been killed after a military plane crashed in a field in northern Algeria soon after takeoff.

The cause of the crash was unclear and an investigation has been launched, the defence ministry said.

Emergency services converged on the area near the Boufarik military base. “There are more than 100 deaths. We can’t say exact how many at this point,” Mohammed Achour, the chief spokesman for the civil protection agency, said.

He said the Russian-designed Il-76 military transport plane was carrying soldiers. The defence ministry did not provide a death toll but expressed condolences to the victims’ families.

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