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Militants hijack Russian helicopter in Sudan – Russian Foreign Ministry

Russia's  peacekeeping contingent in Sudan. Archive
Russia’s peacekeeping contingent in Sudan. Archive

July 27, 2010

(KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI)  Militants in the Sudanese Darfur region on Monday hijacked a Russian helicopter with four Russian crew members and five Sudanese passengers on board, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

“According to the information we have, there are no casualties,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the helicopter was not damaged.

The ministry is taking all necessary steps to obtain the release of the Russian citizens involved and to clarify the situation.

The helicopter belongs to Russian UTair Aviation company and was working in Sudan on a UN contract. When it was hijacked, the helicopter was on a joint UN and African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur.

The civil war that broke out in the western region of Darfur in early 2003 has claimed the lives of more than 300,000, according to United Nations estimates, and forced 2.7 million people from their homes. The Sudanese side puts the number of dead at 10,000.

Several Sudanese rebel groups have recently signed peace accords with the government in Khartoum but a key rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army, has so far rejected negotiations with Khartoum and fought fierce clashes with the Sudanese army in March.

Russia has been maintaining a peacekeeping contingent in the war-torn country since April 2006 as part of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).

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