UN says peacekeeping helicopter shot down in South Sudan

UNITED NATIONS Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:15pm IST

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A U.N. peacekeeping helicopter on a reconnaissance mission in South Sudan's Jonglei state was shot down on Friday by the South Sudanese army, killing all four crew members, U.N. peacekeeping spokesman Kieran Dwyer said.

Russian news agencies reported that the helicopter was Russian.

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 U.N. contract was downed today in the afternoon."

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

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

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau, Michelle Nichols and Moscow bureau,; Editing by David Storey)

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