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Hammarskjöld's plane 'shot down': report

The Local/dl · 18 Aug 2011, 10:53

Published: 18 Aug 2011 10:53 GMT+02:00

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According to a report in the Guardian newspaper, new eye-witness testimony gathered by Swedish aid worker Göran Björkdahl supports the theory that Hammarskjöld's plane was shot down by a second, unidentified aircraft.

Björkdahl also reviewed diplomatic communications from the weeks prior to the crash indicating that US and British authorities were upset about a UN military operation ordered by Hammarskjöld to counteract a rebellion reportedly supported by western mining companies in the mineral-rich Katanga region.

At the time of the crash, which occurred over Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) on the night of September 17th, 1961, Hammarskjöld's support for decolonisation had upset many of the major powers on the UN Security Council, but had earned him the backing of many third world countries.

He was thought to be assured of winning another term as UN Secretary General at the upcoming General Assembly vote, scheduled to take place just weeks after the crash.

While Björkdahl remains uncertain about who may have killed Hammarskjöld, he said he now better understands the motives behind why the headstrong Swedish diplomat may have been killed.

"It's clear that there were a lot of circumstances pointing to possible involvement by western powers,” he told the Guardian.

"The motive was there – the threat to the west's interests in Congo's huge mineral deposits. And this was the time of black African liberation, and you had whites who were desperate to cling on.”

A British-led inquiry conducted at the time of the crash cited pilot error as the likely cause.

The findings, which were later adopted by a subsequent UN investigation, downplayed eye-witness testimonies from nearby villagers that there had been a second plane in the vicinity of Hammarskjöld's DC-6 when it crashed.

But interviews conducted by Björkdahl over the last three years, with surviving witnesses from the area near the crash site, revealed that Northern Rhodesian security forces sealed off the site within hours of the crash and ordered residents to leave the area.

Dickson Mbewe, 84, described how the plane was shot down near his home in Chifubu.

“We saw a plane fly over Chifubu but did not pay any attention to it the first time," Mbewe told the Guardian.

"When we saw it a second and third time, we thought that this plane was denied landing permission at the airport. Suddenly we saw another aircraft approach the bigger aircraft at greater speed and release fire which appeared as a bright light."

According to Mbewe, the plane later “went down and disappeared”.

When he went to explore the crash site early the next morning, he discovered soldiers and police officers steering people away from the wreckage even though the official report of the incident claimed that the downed plane wasn't discovered until 3pm in the afternoon.

Story continues below…

Mikael Holmström, a security affairs correspondent with the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper, called the new findings “sensational” despite the fact that much of the evidence cited in the Guardian report has been known for years.

“But the fact that authorities may have sealed off the site long before the plane was officially found is totally new and that indicates there could have been a cover up,” he told SvD.

Holmström also said it's “tragic” that Sweden didn't push harder to gain clarity regarding what actually caused the crash.

“It was clear shortly after the crash that the accident investigation was incomplete,” he said.

The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:55 August 18, 2011 by gh2008
just another conspiracy theory, who cares?

but wait a second, now that i think of it!!!

what if its not theories? in fact these theories are becoming the only rational explanation for most issues that my mind doesn't function well enough to decode it otherwise.
12:46 August 18, 2011 by krow
Another reason to believe that the WEST have continiously been raping the third world countries, no wonder there is little or no development going on there.
12:56 August 18, 2011 by muscle
Well both of the countries, US and UK, are now suffering for their acts, as you sow so shall your reap. Its not the multiculturism coming from africa or asian places that should get the Sweden worried, its the cooperation with the US and UK that should be the cause of concern for Sweden.
13:31 August 18, 2011 by Luke R D
A little close to a truth of some description, ay?!
13:38 August 18, 2011 by Morenikeji
Hammarskjöld was nothing but an instrument of western imperialism in the Congo. History will never forgive him for the part he played in the murder of the democratically-elected leader of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba, at the time. The efforts of people like Björkdahl to cast Hammarskjöld as a friend of the anti-imperialism is really disgusting.
16:26 August 18, 2011 by bells on the knight
nah happens all the time when someone gets to close to the "truth" look at russia for instance and how UK was dealing with its nationals in Saudi prisons (accused of terrorism - ROFL) before a major arms deal went through in 2003/4.
15:39 August 19, 2011 by harthacanute
For goodness sake, Göran Björkdahl has been peddling this banal conspiratorial nonsense for years .. it has never stacked up in the past and it doesn't stack up now. There is marginally less credible evidence to support his theories than there is to support a claim that Eric the Red was the first man on the moon - not that that will stop the desperate and deluded from believing all the conspiratorial gibberish.
18:13 August 19, 2011 by Archie1954
Unfortunately the Western powers (US and UK) have proven in the past to be treacherous, therefore these conspiracy theories have a basis in historical fact. Whether or not the UN Secretary General was shot down by a Western power we probably will never know, however we consider the possibility to be very real that it actually happened just from past experience.
14:11 September 20, 2011 by shahislam
It's a good knowledge and these are excellent war toys but we may never have to manufacture and use them, unless some newly rich powers shall want to test our current ability whether it will match our past deeds which we had to exercise in uncivilized world situations in the past. (Thanks a lot Washington post) We have, ready to get busy, experts, friends who can build drone-type war-toys for us in a short notice!

But the fools have no idea that we can change our policies of war (which is thought based mental ideas of some human minds only) to use 'money' as a weapon instead of 'bombing machines'.

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