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Sudan captures Russian cargo helicopter

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Monday, July 28, 2003

CAIRO Sudan has accused Russia of providing weapons to rebels based near the Libyan border.

Sudanese officials said the military has captured a Russian cargo helicopter in western Sudan. The officials said the helicopter was believed to have been ferrying weapons to Sudanese Liberation Movement.

The Russian helicopter was captured by Sudan's military near the western capital of Fasher, officials said. They said the C-26 helicopter was believed to have been supplying SLM forces in the Darfour province.

Russia has denied helping the SLM, Middle East Newsline reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the helicopter was on a United Nations relief mission and was coming from the Republic of Congo.

The ministry said the helicopter was being held by Sudan's military because it did not have permission to fly over Sudan. Moscow has demanded that the crew be released.

Khartoum's accusation comes as Sudan's military prepares for a major offensive against the SLM in Darfour. Over the last three months, the SLM has captured a string of towns in the western province.

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