"Investigators working at the scene have found 20 bodies, all severely burned due to a fire and explosion that apparently followed the crash," the source said.
Three helicopters carrying troops were sent to augment a federal task force fighting gunmen near the village of Shatoi, 30 miles south of the capital Grozny, earlier Friday.
One Mi-8 Hip transport helicopter was downed by automatic rifle fire as it approached the target area, killing everyone on board in what is apparently the second-deadliest attack on a federal helicopter in Chechnya in recent years, after the downing of a heavy Mi-26 Halo helicopter August 19, 2002, in which 127 on board were killed.
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Any response would likely boomerang on Russia – the partnership between Rosneft and ExxonMobil is a case in point. The United States has hit Russia with a third round of sanctions. This time the Americans went with a higher caliber weapon, targeting Russia’s biggest energy companies (Rosneft and Novatek) and banks (VEB and Gazprombank).