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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Chechens down Russian helicopter
Russian soldier and helicopter
This is the second helicopter to crash in a week
Chechen fighters have shot down a Russian military helicopter, killing the pilot and co-pilot.

Rebels attacked the helicopter with a grenade launcher in the Vedeno region.

They also ambushed a Russian convoy, damaging some vehicles.

The BBC's Russian affairs analyst, Stephen Dalziel, says these attacks will do nothing to improve the morale of Russian troops who had been promised that the military operation was nearly over.

Second crash

The helicopter, a Mi-25, is the most powerful combat helicopter in the Russian arsenal, and has earned the nickname the "flying tank".

Chechen fighter
Almost two years on Russian troops are still caught up in the conflict
Shot down on Wednesday, the helicopter was the second to be downed this week.

Three people died and five were injured when a military helicopter crashed on Monday. That crash has been blamed on a malfunction and has not been linked to the conflict.

The current Russian campaign in Chechnya began in September 1999.

It is Moscow's second offensive in the breakaway republic and was aimed at putting right the army's losses in the 1994-96 conflict.

But our correspondent says the goal of sorting out the Chechen question once and for all looks as far away as ever as the conflict's second anniversary approaches.

See also:

23 Apr 01 | Europe
Analysis: Chechnya's endless war
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