#AceWorldNews – ALGIERS – July 27 – According to latest information that either 116 or 118 people on board the Air Algerie flight AH5017 which crashed in the restive northern Mali, at least 33 French military personnel including three senior intelligence officials and a Lebanese Hezbollah leader were present, it has emerged reported IBTimes
Even as the Algerian authorities have asserted that the real cause of the crash could be established only after a thorough investigation, they have not ruled out a terror attack either.
The exact number of people present in the aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas-83, is still unclear – whether it was 116 or 118.
But the local daily Echorouk, citing sources, said there were French troops on board.
There were at least 19 Lebanese passengers and some of them were dual citizens, including an alleged senior Hezbollah figure, who was disguised as a businessman.
A team of Lebanese experts is also on its way to Mali to assist the ongoing investigation.
Meanwhile, militants from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA), locally known as Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa, are said to be stationed near the crash site, which is not far from their stronghold.
The al-Qaeda-inspired outfit is believed to be holding an arsenal of missiles in its possession which were smuggled from Libya.
However, experts have firmly ruled out any ground-to-air attack that brought down the plane.
But speculation over a criminal incident linked to explosives inside the Burkina Faso-Algiers flight has also surfaced.
"We rule out — and have from the start — any ground strike," French junior transport minister Frédéric Cuvillier told France Two television.