NATO says 9 service members from international coalition killed in helicopter crash

Monday, September 20, 2010

NATO says 9 service members killed in copter crash

KABUL, Afghanistan — Nine service members with the international coalition in Afghanistan died Tuesday after their helicopter crashed in the volatile south where troops are ramping up pressure on Taliban insurgents.

One other coalition service member, an Afghan National Army soldier and a U.S. civilian were injured and taken to a military medical center for treatment, NATO said.

Though helicopters more regularly crash because of mechanical issues in Afghanistan, some have been brought down by insurgent fire.

However, NATO said in a statement, “There are no reports of enemy fire in the area.”

The deaths raise to 37 the number of international soldiers killed so far this month in Afghanistan, including at least 29 U.S. troops.

Choppers are used extensively by both NATO and the Afghan government forces to transport and supply troops spread out across a mountainous country with few roads. Losses have been relatively light, despite insurgent fire and difficult conditions, and most crashes have been accidents caused by maintenance problems or factors such as dust.

Tuesday’s crash occurred in northwestern Zabul province, according to a NATO official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the location of the crash. Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, a spokesman for the provincial governor in Zabul, said the helicopter went down in Daychopan district.

It was the deadliest helicopter crash in Afghanistan in years.

A Chinook crashed in February 2007 in Zabul, killing eight U.S. personnel.

In May 2006, a Chinook crashed attempting a nighttime landing on a small mountaintop in eastern Kunar province, killing 10 U.S. soldiers. That followed on a 2005 crash in Kunar that killed 16 Americans.

The most recent helicopter crash before this one occurred in southern Kandahar province in August when a Canadian Chinook was shot down, injuring eight Canadians.

In July in southern Helmand province, a chopper crash killed two U.S. service members. The Taliban had claimed it had shot it down. NATO said at the time it was investigating.

Associated Press Writer Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.

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