Eleven Killed In Afghan Helicopter Crash
August 16, 2012
by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan
KABUL -- The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan has said a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan killed 11, including seven U.S soldiers.
ISAF spokesman Brigadier General Guenter Katz, speaking on August 16 with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, said four Afghans also died, including a civilian interpreter and three members of the Afghan security forces.
"An ISAF helicopter crashed in Kandahar Province today. The crash resulted in the deaths of seven U.S. soldiers, three members of the Afghan national security forces, and one Afghan civilian interpreter. The cause of the crash in still under investigation," Katz said.
Earlier, ISAF announced three U.S. soldiers died and four ISAF service members, whose nationalities were not revealed.
In a statement, Taliban spokesman Qari Yosuf Ahmadi claimed Taliban militants downed the American UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.
The AFP news agency quoted Ahmadi as saying the incident occurred in the Taliban-controlled Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar Province, a traditional stronghold of the militant group. He added that a rocket-propelled grenade had been used to bring the helicopter down.
The claim could not be independently confirmed.
Afghan officials say Shah Wali Kot district, which lies north along the border with Uruzgan Province, is a key transit route, with insurgents regularly attacking local police checkpoints and planting bombs in the road to target passing government vehicles.
The NATO-led coalition has relied heavily on helicopters to carry troops and supplies around the mountainous terrain in an attempt to avoid the threat of ambushes and roadside bombs.
That has left helicopters as a target for insurgents, who have shot down several helicopters used by the 130,000-strong NATO mission.
Last August, the Taliban shot down a U.S. helicopter near Kabul, killing eight Afghans and 30 Americans, including 22 U.S. Navy SEALs. The incident was the deadliest single incident for American troops since the toppling of the Taliban regime in 2001.
That incident was preceded by another last March, when a Turkish helicopter crashed into a house on the outskirts of Kabul, killing 12 Turkish soldiers and two Afghan civilians. The Taliban claimed they shot down the helicopter.
With reporting by AP and AFP
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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