August 15, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The rebel Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) pledged to free soon a chopper contracted by the African Union United National Mission in Darfur(UNAMID) but denied receiving any information from the hybrid operation.
UN deputy spokesperson Eduardo del Buey last Tuesday announced that a helicopter of a UNAMID contractor is held by the SLM-MM rebels after an emergency landing at 50km south-eastern of Nyala in South Darfur. He indicated that the contractor is tasked with delivering supplies to the UNAMID troops in the state.
Del Buey also pointed out that they are in contact with the rebel group to secure a safe release of the Russian Mi-8 helicopter and its crewmembers, one Sudanese and two Ukrainians.
However the official spokesperson of the rebel group Abdallah Mursal denied in a statement he extended to Sudan Tribune on Thursday that they have any details from the UNAMID or its contactor company about the chopper.
"Since the initial investigations, the crewmembers explained that the helicopter belongs to a government company and it is chartered by the UNAMID, but there is no evidence proving their claims", Mursal said.
"Nevertheless, the Movement contacted all the relevant parties, the UNAMID and the company on the same day the helicopter landed but we have not received any reply until now", the official spokesperson asserted.
Mursal said that they are about to terminate the investigation, adding they "will release the copper and its crew as soon as it is proven that it belongs to the UNAMID or any humanitarian organisation".
Khartoum and the UNAMID keep silent over the incident. Also the UN spokesperson only confirmed it only after reports disclosing the detention which took place on 3 August.