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UN helicopter crashes in South sudan

2012-12-21 20:37

Juba - A UN helicopter crashed on Friday in South Sudan, claiming the lives of four crew members, a spokesperson said.

"The helicopter was not carrying any passengers," Liam McDowall told AFP, adding that an investigation had been opened into the cause of the crash.

He said the crash occurred in Jonglei state, in the east of the country.

It is speculated that it may have been shot down, possibly by rebels.

Reuters reports the Itar-tass news agency quoted a source at the Russian embassy in South Sudan as saying: "According to preliminary data, a Mi-8 helicopter owned by Nizhnevartovskavia company working under a UN contract was downed today in the afternoon."

Russia said earlier this year that it would withdraw helicopters and personnel servicing the UN mission in South Sudan after voicing alarm at attacks on U.N. helicopters there.

The UN mission in South Sudan, known as UNMISS, was created after South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011.