NATO aircraft crashes in Kosovo, two pilots survive

A small NATO military airplane crashed in Kosovo late Wednesday and the two pilots onboard survived, officials said.

The small military aircraft crashed in the village of Mazgit, some 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of the province's capital, Pristina, and nearby Kosovo's main airport, said Col. Pio Sabetta, a spokesman for the NATO-led peacekeeping force, known as KFOR.

The pilots were not seriously injured, Sabetta said.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the plane as a U.S. military aircraft. An airport official said the aircraft was a small Cessna 337.

Sabetta declined to identify the nationality of the crew. He said the pilots were conducting a "training flight" at the time of the crash. Witnesses said the aircraft sustained major damages to its wings and belly.

The aircraft was initially tangled in electric wires before it crashed in a field, Nysret, a witness at the scene who declined to give his last name, told The Associated Press by telephone.

Police and NATO-led peacekeepers sealed off the area and were sifting through the field under emergency blue lights as helicopters hovered.

Some 1,700 U.S. peacekeepers are part of the 17,500-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force, down from a high of 5,000 U.S. soldiers deployed here after the war.

Kosovo has been run by the United Nations since mid-1999, when a NATO air war halted a Serb crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians fighting for independence, and forced Belgrade to relinquish control of the province, reports AP.

O.Ch.