At least 18 Russian soldiers die in crash of helicopter in Chechnya

April 28, 2007|By Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW -- A Russian military helicopter crashed during a combat mission against separatist guerrillas in Russia's southern republic of Chechnya yesterday, killing at least 18 soldiers, authorities said.

Initial reports said the craft was brought down by rebel fire, but officials said later that mechanical failure was more likely the cause. Three insurgents were also reported killed in the battle, but others apparently escaped into nearby mountains.

The exact death toll remained unclear, with the Russian news agency RIA Novosti citing an unnamed local security source, reporting yesterday evening that 20 severely burned bodies had been found near the crash site. The number of dead was believed to be the highest for Russian forces in a single incident in Chechnya in at least two years.

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