Home | News    Friday 25 July 2003

Sudanese authorities release Russian helicopter crew

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MOSCOW, Jul 25, 2003 (AP) — Sudanese authorities on Friday released the crew of a Russian cargo helicopter they seized this week when it stopped en route to Congo for use in a U.N. peacekeeping mission, an official at the company that owns the craft said.

The crew was released from custody along with the helicopter and took off from the western city of al-Fasher, said Viktor Volkov, an official at the company, Vertikal-T, by telephone.

"Everything’s in order, they are already in the air," Volkov said.

Vertikal-T had said its 13-person crew was arrested in al-Fasher after the craft was seized by military authorities there Monday. The company said the authorities claimed the helicopter was performing a military mission and did not have permission to fly through Sudan.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that the flight was in connection with a United Nations peacemaking mission in Congo and demanded the crew’s release.

Before the release was reported Friday, a U.N. source said that the U.N. mission to Congo was waiting for an Mi-26 from Russia that was struck in Sudan. The source said the craft was to be used to ferry Bangladeshi peacekeeping troops in Congo.

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