Rebels detain UN chopper in Sudan

Khartoum — A helicopter and its crew contracted by peacekeepers in Sudan’s Darfur have been “detained” by rebels in the troubled region for 10 days, the mission said yesterday.The Mi-8 chopper was contracted by a Russian company and did not carry UN markings, Christopher Cycmanick, acting spokesperson for the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (Unamid), told AFP.

One of the crew members is Sudanese while the other two are foreign, he said, without giving their nationality.
The helicopter was delivering supplies to Unamid locations in South Darfur state when a mechanical failure forced it to make an emergency landing on 3 August, south-east of Nyala city, Cycmanick said.

“The crew members, a total of  three, were detained by members of SLA-Minni Minnawi,” he said, referring to one of Darfur’s main rebel groups.
“Since that time, communication has been maintained with all parties and negotiations have been underway for gaining the safe release of the crew as well as the recovery of the helicopter,” Cycmanick said.

Hussein Minnawi, a member of the Minnawi group’s political bureau, told AFP that an investigation was underway to determine if the chopper was owned by a private firm or the government. — AFP

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