France claims helicopters on aircraft seized in Nigeria with Russian crew, French officers

The French Embassy says two military helicopters on a Russian-made aircraft seized in northern Nigeria belong to France.

Nigerian authorities became suspicious when an Antonov transport plane flying from Central African Republic to Chad diverted off course to Kano. It was impounded Saturday.

The French Embassy says the plane rerouted because of heavy air traffic at N'Djamena, the Chad capital.

It says the plane was carrying two French helicopters being redeployed from Central African Republic to Chad to support a regional fight against extremist terrorism.

The French statement dated Sunday said two French military officers accompanied the helicopters.

The Russian Embassy said it is negotiating the release of 18 detained Russian crew members.

The French Embassy said Monday that Nigerian authorities will allow the plane to continue to N'Djamena.