NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania -- An aviation official in Mauritania says seven people were killed in the crash of a military plane chartered by Canada's Kinross Gold Corp.

The official says the plane caught fire shortly after taking off this morning from an airstrip in Nouakchott, the West African nation's capital.

The pilot attempted to return to the runway but failed to reach it.

Three military crew members, two custom officials and two civilian passengers aboard died on the spot.

The official affiliated with Mauritania's flight control agency, who declined to be named in line with department policy, said the civilian victims' identities were not immediately clear.

He said the plane was bound for the Tasiast gold mine some 200 kilometres north of the capital.