More than 250 people have been killed in a military plane crash in Algeria, state television has reported.

The plane crashed soon after takeoff in a field near the Boufarik military base in northern Algeria on 11 April.

The cause of the crash was unclear and an investigation has been launched, the country’s defence ministry said.

Emergency services converged on the area near the base. Mohammed Achour, chief spokesman for the civil protection agency, said the Russian-designed Il-76 military transport plane had been carrying soldiers.

The defence ministry has not provided a death toll, but expressed condolences to the victims’ families.

The Algerian TV network Ennahar published images of body bags lined up in a field after the crash.

The flight had just taken off from Boufarik, about 30 kilometres south-west of capital Algiers, when it crashed.

The aircraft was bound for a military base in Béchar in the south-west of the country. It was scheduled to make a stopover in Tindouf, in southern Algeria.