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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Request to Angola

MOSCOW -- Russia urged Angola's UNITA rebels on Tuesday to release the crew members of two Russian planes shot down recently in the West African country.

"We call upon UNITA, its leadership and personally [UNITA rebel chief] Doctor [Jonas] Savimbi to show a humane approach toward our people and take urgent measures to release them for their subsequent return to their motherland,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told a news conference, according to ITAR-Tass.

The An-26 and An-12 planes were shot down May 12 and June 30 in the northeastern Lunda Norte province. Several crew members were seized and are still being held by UNITA, according to the rebels.

UNITA rebels say Russian mercenaries are helping government troops in the civil war. Angola and Russia both deny the claim.