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PRETORIA, August 13 (Itar-Tass). Sudanese insurgents have seized a Russian Mi-8 helicopter in Darfur; UNAMID staff has been detained for ten days now, said representative of UNAMID, the joint mission of African Union and the United Nations.
UNAMID representative Chris Cycmanick said that the helicopter was chartered by a Russian company and was not carrying UN insignia. At this point it is known that one crewmember is Sudanese; two more are unidentified foreign nationals. It has been confirmed that no Russians were on board; preliminary information suggests that the other two staffers were Ukrainian citizens.
The aircraft was carrying out a UNAMID mission in South Darfur August 3. Due to a malfunction it had to make an emergency landing 50 kilometers south east of Nyala.
Cycmanick stated that UNAMID staffers were detained by the Sudanese Liberation Movement Minni Minnawi. Since their capture, the organization has been negotiating release of the helicopter and crewmembers.