Reuters International

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Seventeen Colombian soldiers died when their Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter crashed in a central mountainous area of the Andean country, the army said on Monday.

The accident in the Caldas province, some 180 km (112 miles) from the Bogota capital, occurred on Sunday when the helicopter was travelling from the jungle province of Choco to the Tolemaida military base, the army said.

"The first hypothesis suggests the accident could be related to bad weather in the area," it said in a statement.

Last August, 16 police officers died after a mechanical failure caused their U.S.-made UH-60 Black Hawk to crash during an anti-drug operation in Colombia's northeast.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Lisa Von Ahn)

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