Updated at 11 a.m. ET: Bad weather was blamed for the crash of a chartered helicopter Sunday in southern Sudan, which killed all 32 people aboard, including several prominent government and political leaders.
The helicopter was carrying a government delegation to South Kordofan state for prayers on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when it crashed into Hajar al-Nar, a mountain near the town of Talodi, said the official Sudanese news agency, SUNA.
SUNA reported that the victims included Ghazi al-Saddiq, the minister of Guidance and Endowments — the equivalent of the religion ministry — Maki Ali Balayli, chairman of Sudan's Peace and Justice Party, and several other government, security and media figures.
Initial reports had speculated that the Sudan People's Liberation Movement North, the main rebel group in the violent region, might have attacked the helicopter, but rebels denied any involvement, and the government later said the crash was "due to bad weather."
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