The bodies of five Americans killed when their locust-spraying plane was shot down by rebels have been handed over to the U.S Embassy, government and U.S. officials said Friday.
About 100 personal items of the five were handed over at a ceremony Thursday, the officials said.The bodies were brought to the embassy by a Polisario Red Cross unit. Polisario, the movement fighting Morocco for independence of the former Spanish territory of Western Sahara, admitted it mistook the U.S. plane for a Moroccan military jet and shot it down.
The DC-7 was hit by a ground-to-air missile halfway between the Mauritanian border and the defensive perimeter Morocco built against the Polisario rebels.
The victims have been identified as Wesley Wilson of North Platte, Neb., Joel Blackmer of Phoenix, Ariz., Blackmer's son Frank Christopher Kennedy, also of Phoenix, Bernard George Rossini of Tempe, Ariz., and Francis Anthony Hederman of Cody, Wyo. The men were under contract to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The plane was the fifth shot down over the disputed territory since the Sahara war broke out in 1975. Previous incidents involved small French private aircraft.