The current rotation of the flight personnel and technicians from the Russian helicopter gunship unit in Sierra Leone is nearly completed, with an IL-76 Candid military transport plane taking off from the Tver Migalovo airfield at 01:30 Moscow time 28 June. The plane's second flight to Sierra Leon carried a new shift of flight crew and technicians led by first class pilot Alexander Lande, as well as spare MI-24 Hind parts (including new engines). Over 80 percent of the new Russian personnel joining the United Nations Mission In Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) have combat experience in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other trouble spots.
LURD rebels stepped up their activity in April and May, heightening fears that conflict in Liberia could destabilize the whole region in West Africa. Sierra Leone held peaceful elections in May, marking the end of another civil war which lasted for a decade. Reports from the border area said that UNAMSIL MI-24 gunships were undertaking daily reconnaissance flights at the beginning of June to monitor the situation. - Adam Geibel