UNITED NATIONS, December 21 (Itar-Tass) —— South Sudan’s army has confirmed that it shot down a Russian Mi-8 helicopter that was working with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General, told journalists on Friday.
According to the United Nations official, the helicopter with four crewmembers was making a reconnaissance flight. It was shot down at about 10:00 a.m. local time in the state of Jonglei in east of South Sudan. After the South Sudanese military had informed the UN mission about the incident, the mission launched a rescue operation near the city of Lukuangole. The death of all the four pilots was confirmed.
The Russian embassy in South Sudan confirmed information about the incident.
Russia’s aviation team began its mission in South Sudan in 2006. The team includes some 120 pilots, engineers, technicians and other specialists. Russian peacekeepers were involved in various missions, such as airlifting UN military observers and cargoes. They also took part in rescue and search operations. The team operates four Mi-8 MTV transport helicopters reequipped to fit UN standards.
It is planned to withdraw the Russian peacekeepers from South Sudan by the end of March, 2013.