Officials say southern Sudan's defense minister has been killed in a plane crash.

Defense Minister Dominic Dim was one of 23 people aboard the plane that crashed in southern Sudan Friday.

Officials from southern Sudan's regional government say there were no survivors. Justin Yak, an advisor to southern Sudan leader Salva Kiir, and several military officers were among those killed.

The chartered plane was flying from the city of Wau to the southern capital, Juba. Southern Sudan Vice President Riek Machar says it went down about 375 kilometers west of the capital.

Machar ruled out an attack on the plane, saying the crash appeared to be caused by a mechanical failure.

Southern Sudan has been at odds with the north over implementation of the 2005 peace deal that ended a 21-year civil war.

Under that agreement, southern Sudan gained general autonomy and is to hold a referendum on secession in 2011.

The north and south remain divided over the borders of the oil-rich Abyei region.

The United Nations estimates that Sudan's north-south conflict killed more than two million people between 1983 and 2005.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.