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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Helicopter Crashes in Chechnya, One Dead

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia -- A helicopter crashed in a river in Chechnya on Friday, killing one of the 24 people on board and leaving one other missing, emergency officials said. The survivors were evacuated and two of them were hospitalized with injuries.

The Mi-8 lost contact with controllers on the ground shortly after noon and went down in the Terek River, where it was found about 7 kilometers from the city of Gudermes in eastern Chechnya later in the afternoon, said Yury Miroshnichenko, a duty officer at the Emergency Situations Ministry in the North Caucasus region.

The helicopter was carrying 21 police officers and a crew of three, Miroshnichenko said. He said one crew member was killed and one of the police officers was missing.

News reports about the casualties differed wildly. Itar-Tass, citing unnamed law enforcement officials in Chechnya, said 11 people were killed and 12 injured, while Interfax quoted the deputy commander of federal forces in the region, Boris Podoprigora, as saying preliminary information indicated only that one person was injured.

Podoprigora characterized the crash as a rough landing on the river's flood plain in bad weather. There was no information about a cause.

The helicopter was carrying police from Mozdok in the neighboring republic of North Ossetia to the headquarters of Russia's military operation in Chechnya at Khankala, outside Grozny, Interfax reported. It said the police were from a unit based in far eastern Russia.

An overcrowded Russian military helicopter was shot down by Chechen rebels near Khankala in August, killing at least 119 people.

In other news, servicemen shot and killed three 13-year-old boys after they drove through a Grozny checkpoint without stopping, an official said Thursday.

The boys were driving a car belonging to one of their fathers Wednesday when they failed to stop at a checkpoint in the Oktyabrsky district. The troops followed them in an armored personnel carrier and fired at them, said an official in the Moscow-backed Chechen administration.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, gave no further details about the incident.

Chechnya's many checkpoints are a constant source of tension between the military and the civilian population, which say they severely restrict freedom of movement. Residents say soldiers demand bribes to allow people or cars to pass and often detain men and boys who cannot pay on suspicion of being rebels.

Also Wednesday in the same part of Grozny, a bomb hidden in temporary housing for construction workers exploded as an army jeep carrying Chechen policemen passed, the official said. Four police officers were killed, and 18 people in the area, including university students, police and soldiers, were injured.

In the town of Argun, two Chechen policemen were killed as they patrolled the streets, the official said without giving details.

Over the past 24 hours, rebels fired on Russian positions 19 times, killing five servicemen and wounding five, the official said. Riot police clashed with militants near the village of Gikalo. Two rebels were killed and two riot police were wounded, the official said.