Darfur rebels seize Russian helicopter: official

27th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Rebels in Sudan's region of Darfur have seized a Russian helicopter working under contract for the United Nations carrying nine people, the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The helicopter, belonging to Russian air company UTair and carrying five Sudanese passengers and four Russian crew, was seized on Monday, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"According to our information, there are no casualties and the aircraft was not damaged," the ministry said, adding that its embassy in Khartoum was moving to clarify the situation.

It said UTair was working in Sudan under contract to the United Nations and the helicopter was carrying out a flight serving the joint UN and African Union peace mission in the region.

No further details were available.

The vast conflict-torn western Sudanese region has seen a wave of kidnappings of foreign nationals since March 2009, with 17 foreigners including 10 Westerners seized there.

Two German aid workers kidnapped on June 22 when gunmen swooped on their offices in south Darfur were freed on Tuesday, Germany's foreign ministry said.

Darfur has been gripped by civil war since 2003 that has left 300,000 people dead and 2.7 million displaced, according to the United Nations. Khartoum says 10,000 have been killed in the conflict.

© 2010 AFP

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