Air Rhodesia Flight 825

Air Rhodesia Flight 825 was a scheduled passenger flight that was deliberately shot down by Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) cadres on 3 September 1978. The aircraft involved, a Vickers Viscount named the Hunyani, was flying the last leg of Air Rhodesia's regular scheduled service from Victoria Falls to the capital Salisbury, via the resort town of Kariba.

Soon after Flight 825 took off, a group of ZIPRA guerrillas scored a direct hit on its starboard wing with a Soviet-made Strela 2 surface-to-air infrared homing missile, critically damaging the aircraft and forcing an emergency landing. An attempted belly landing in a cotton field just west of Karoi was foiled by an unseen ditch, which caused the plane to cartwheel and break up. Of the 52 passengers and four crew, 38 died in this crash; ZIPRA cadres then approached the wreckage, rounded up the 10 survivors they could see and massacred them with automatic gunfire. Three passengers survived by hiding in the surrounding bush, while a further five lived because they had gone to look for water before the guerrillas arrived.

ZIPRA leader Joshua Nkomo publicly claimed responsibility for shooting down the Hunyani on BBC television the same evening, saying the aircraft had been used for military purposes. He denied that his men had killed any survivors on the ground. The majority of Rhodesians, both black and white, saw the attack as an act of terrorism. A fierce white Rhodesian backlash followed against perceived enemies, with many whites becoming violently resentful and suspicious of blacks in general, even though few black Rhodesians supported attacks of this kind. Reports viewing the attack negatively appeared in international journals such as Time magazine, but there was almost no acknowledgement of it by overseas governments, much to the Rhodesian government's indignation.

Talks between Nkomo and Prime Minister Ian Smith, which had been progressing promisingly, were immediately suspended by the furious Rhodesians, with Smith calling Nkomo a "monster". On 10 September, Smith announced the extension of martial law over selected areas. The Rhodesian Security Forces launched several retaliatory strikes into Zambia and Mozambique over the following months, attacking both ZIPRA and its rival, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army. The attack on ZIPRA in particular brought great controversy as many of those killed were refugees camping in and around guerrilla positions. Some, including writer Eliakim Sibanda, contend that the massacre at the crash site was carried out by deep cover Rhodesian soldiers rather than ZIPRA cadres. Five months later, in February 1979, ZIPRA shot down Air Rhodesia Flight 827, another civilian flight, in an almost identical incident.

Read more about Air Rhodesia Flight 825:  Background, Aftermath and Memorial, Notes and References

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Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army - Air Rhodesia Flight 825
... Air Rhodesia Flight 825 was a scheduled flight from Kariba to Salisbury that was shot down on September 3, 1978 by ZIPRA guerrillas using a SAM-7 surface-to-air missile ...

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