Sierra Leone: UN Helicopter Crash
- Six officers among 14 Pakistanis killed
ISLAMABAD, June 30: Fourteen Pakistani peacekeepers were killed when
their helicopter crashed in Sierra Leone on Tuesday during a UN
peacekeeping operation. The UN officials said an investigation had
been launched into the incident to ascertain the cause of the crash.
A press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations
Directorate (ISPR) here on Wednesday said the helicopter was on a
routine flight when it was blinded by the jungle thicket and crashed
into a hill eight kilometre short of its destination.
The press release said the crash occurred near the city of Yengema, a
small town in eastern Sierra Leone, at 3.17pm Pakistan time on
Tuesday. The following are the names of Pakistani officials who died
in the Tuesday crash: Lt-Col Riaz Ahmed Khokar, Lt-Col Ziauddin, Lt-
Col Faizullah Khan, Maj Hasnain Anwar, Capt Waqas Ahmed Mirza, Capt
Murtaza Khalil Siddiqui, Sepoy Mohammad Zulfiqar, Sepoy Nazir
Mohammad, Signal Operator Iftikhar Ahmed, Havaldar AFM Mohammad
Iqbal, Lance Havaldar DMT Mohammad Jehangir, Naik AFM Mohammad Amir,
Lance Naik DMT Mohammad Jamil and OCU Ahmed Khan.
The UN sources said the Russian MI-8 helicopter was on a flight from
Hastings to Yengema with 21 passengers of the UN Mission in Sierra
Leone (UNAMSIL) on board besides three pilots.
All 24 passengers including the crew died on the spot. The ISPR said
the MI8-MTV belonged to a Siberian-based UT Air Charter Company. The
UN officials said a rescue operation had been undertaken and a
UNAMSIL rescue helicopter was dispatched to the area. However, it was
forced to land three kilometres from the crash site because of the
Headed by Maj-Gen Sajjad Akram, Pakistan's contribution to the
military and police contingent of peacekeepers in Sierra Leone is
among one of the largest in the world. By the end of May, Sierra
Leone had a total of 11,655 uniformed personnel including 11,286
troops from UN member states.
According to the UN Security Council resolution 1537 adopted on March
30 this year, it was decided that only a residual UNAMSIL presence
would remain in Sierra Leone with the troops strength to be reduced
from February 2005 to a new ceiling of 3,250 troops, 141 military
observers and 80 UN civilian police personnel.
The sources said despite reduction of peacekeepers in Sierra Leone
from December, Pakistan would still be contributing one infantry
battalion to the UN peace mission.
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