A GIANT transport plane said to be linked to Wagner Group has crashed in Africa – a month to the day since warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed.
Pictures showed clouds of black smoke billowing from the destroyed jet, which reportedly crashed after take-off.
It is not yet known how many people on board died in the smash.
There have also been conflicting reports about members of the Wagner Group having been on the plane.
Telegram channel VChK-OGPU said: “According to preliminary data, there could be mercenaries from PMC Wagner on board.”
Grey Zone rubbished claims that the plane belonged to the mercenary group.
They said “this chartered Il-76 aircraft was used by local forces to transport cargo for various purposes.
“There were no fighters or pilots of the Wagner Group on board.”
Wagner, a Russian paramilitary organisation, is closely involved in military operations in Mali.
Dambiev pro-war Telegram channel said that the downed plane was operated by Russia’s Ruby Star Airways.
The crash took place exactly one month to the day after Wagner’s billionaire boss Yevgeny Prigozhin – once a close ally of Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin – was killed in a jet crash.
Footage showed the aircraft he was on spiralling towards the ground from 28,000ft, leaving the Embraer Legacy 600 plane in a mangled fiery wreckage.
All ten onboard were killed, and the Wagner group quickly came out to declare their suspicions that despot Putin was behind his ‘assassination’.
They were not the only ones to suspect foul play, as the rebel warlord’s fiery death came just two months after a failed coup in Moscow.
A local source in Mali said: “A white plane missed its landing and crashed near the airport.
“Shortly afterwards, it burst into flames.”
Early reports suggest pilot error could be the cause, denying the plane was shot down.
A conflicting account to the event was that the plane was used by UN peacekeepers.
“This aircraft was used to supply the Malian army in the 1st Military District of El Muna,” said one report.