Two Russian pilots die in army helicopter crashes in DR Congo
Two Russian pilots and a Congolese officer died when two army helicopters crashed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the military said Tuesday.
The two Russian-built MI-24 choppers crashed in mountainous terrain on Friday “because of bad weather,” General Leon Mushale, DR Congo’s operational commander in North Kivu province, told a press conference in the regional capital of Goma.
“Troops found three bodies — an FARDC (Congolese army) officer and two Russian pilots,” he said.
The crashes happened in the unrest-wracked east of the country during a reconnaissance patrol against the so-called M23 rebel group, which says it has taken another Russian pilot prisoner.
Two FARDC officers and three Russian crew members were also injured, and taken to hospital in Goma by UN troops, he said.
M23 is a mostly ethnic Tutsi rebel group that mutinied against the DR Congo in 2012, saying a peace accord signed in 2009 had not been respected by the government.
The militia was defeated the following year, and hundreds of fighters fled the country.
DR Congo and other African countries often employ foreign personnel to fly and maintain military aircraft.