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Chechnya: Rebels Shoot Down Russian Helicopter

Moscow, 29 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The deputy commander of Russian Interior Ministry troops in Chechnya says separatist guerrillas shot down a Russian Mi-8 helicopter today, killing three crewmen and an officer passenger. Interfax news agency quotes General Stanislav Kavun as saying the helicopter went down as it prepared to land near Khankala, Russia's main military base in Chechnya, just outside the capital Grozny.

An Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman said that a shoulder-launched antiaircraft missile downed the aircraft.

It was the fourth helicopter shot down by rebel fire in Chechnya in the last three months. In August, a transport helicopter was shot down in the same vicinity. At least 119 died in that incident. Mi-8s usually perform as airborne gunships in Chechnya and often are targeted by rebels.