Air crash kills 17 Russian troops

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A HELICOPTER carrying Russian troops, including a major- general and two colonels, crashed yesterday on the border with Afghanistan, killing at least 17 people.

One person was believed to have survived the crash of the Mi-8 helicopter into the Pyandzh river, which forms the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, according to Russian press reports.

The high-ranking officers killed were not immediately identified. The cause of the crash was not known, though a number of ageing Mi-8s have crashed in recent months.

Russia has about 25,000 troops in Tajikistan to guard the border with Afghanistan against armed groups opposed to the government in the capital, Dushanbe. They are also posted there to intercept smugglers who attempt to carry drugs and weapons across the border.

More than 200 Russian troops in the border force have been killed since it was deployed in 1993, officials have said. (AP)