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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

At least 26 killed in Pakistan helicopter crash

RIA Novosti

21:0603/07/2009 MOSCOW, July 3 (RIA Novosti) - At least 26 Pakistani service personnel were killed on Friday in a helicopter crash in a tribal area near the border with Afghanistan, Pakistan's English-language newspaper, The Nation, said.

The helicopter, which reportedly belonged to the Pakistan Army, crashed in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Peshawar.

"The helicopter crashed in the Orkzai tribal district due to a technical fault," IANS quoted Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas as saying.

Unconfirmed reports from the area suggested, however, that it was downed by militants.

The area on the border with Afghanistan includes North and South Waziristan, which are virtual no-go areas for Pakistani government forces. The mountainous region is the stronghold of fiercely independent Pashtun tribes and is believed to be a safe haven for hundreds of Taliban fighters from Afghanistan blamed for the recent intensification of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

U.S.-led forces stationed in Afghanistan have recently stepped up operations against suspected al-Qaeda terrorists hiding in mountainous areas along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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