Preparations are underway for a search operation in the Gulripshi region of Abkhazia (a self-proclaimed republic of Georgia) after a UN helicopter crashed there on Monday morning. Illegal armed bandit formations are concentrated in the area. The operation will be conducted by UN forces and Russian peacekeeping troops. The exact crash site has already been identified - near the village of Tsebelda in the Kodor gorge. According to preliminary information, all nine people on board the helicopter, the crew, UN observers from Ukraine and a translator were killed in the accident. The foreign minister in the Abkhazian government Sergei Shamba has reported that the helicopter had flown from Sukhumi airport on a monitoring mission to identify the position of the illegal armed groups, which attempted to seize a Georgian village in the Gulripshi region last week. At the same time, aide to the Georgian Defence Minister Mirian Kiknadze told a RIA Novosti correspondent that the ministry could not take responsibility for the incident, as the territory has not been under Georgian control since the 1993 war in Abkhazia.