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15 police officers dead in Colombia helicopter crash

file photo

Bogota- Fifteen police officers died today when the Black Hawk helicopter they were travelling in crashed in the volatile northwest part of the country, the country’s police agency said.

The police said in a statement that two other uniformed personnel were in critical condition and being treated for injuries.

Investigators were rushing to the scene to investigate what led to the crash in a densely jungled area near the Gulf of Uraba region.

The police said that the chopper was part of a mission to locate Dairo Otoniel Usaga, leader of the country’s most violent drug-smuggling gang.

Since February, authorities with the support of the US Drug Enforcement Administration have intensified their manhunt for Otoniel, for whose capture the United States has offered USD 5 million reward.

The crash site is a major haven for the Usaga clan as well as leftist rebels, but police said that preliminary data suggest that a mechanical failure is to blame.

The incident follows the death of 11 air force personnel whose air plane crashed last week near the Caribbean coast.

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