Russia continues search for missing pilot in Sudan

22:00, July 29, 2010      

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The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday confirmed a search was ongoing for a helicopter pilot who went missing in western Sudan after a stopover.

"The whereabouts of captain Yevgeny Mostovshchikov are being clarified. The Sudanese security force and international peacekeepers from the joint U.N.-African Union mission, with which the Russian embassy is in constant contact, are conducting an operation to find him," said a ministry statement cited by the Interfax news agency.

Mystery and confusion surrounds the disappearance.

The ministry on Tuesday announced that rebels in Sudan's Darfur region on Monday seized a helicopter belonging to Russian company UTair with four Russian crew and five Sudanese on board. This was denied by both the joint U.N.-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and Sudanese army.

In the latest statement, the ministry said the Mi-8 chopper was en route from Al Fashir in North Darfur to Abeche in Chad on Monday afternoon with a Russian crew and a group of Darfur insurgents, and stopped in Aborjo of South Darfur to pick up a second group of militants.

The militants were being taken to Doha in Qatar for talks with Sudanese government officials, said the ministry, but "what happened after the landing is now being clarified".

Also on Tuesday, UTair said the aircraft carrying three of the four crew members had returned safely to its base in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.

The UTair helicopter is working in Sudan under contract with the United Nations to serve UNAMID, which took over the peacekeeping task in Darfur from the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) on Dec. 31, 2008.

Source: Xinhua


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