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Rebels Shoot Down Military Helicopter

Leftist rebels shot down a helicopter that was flying soldiers to the site of an oil pipeline attack Sunday. All 29 people on board were feared killed, military officials said.

The Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter apparently caught fire in the air and exploded when it hit the ground near Saravena, 220 miles northeast of Bogota, the army said.

“The helicopter is totally destroyed. It’s almost impossible to imagine there could be survivors,” Col. Enrique Fadul, commander of the army’s 2nd Brigade said in a telephone interview.

The helicopter was carrying 24 soldiers and five civilian crew members employed by Helicol, the company that rented the helicopter to the army.

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