NATO Helicopter Crashes in Southern Afghanistan, Killing 11
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the Black Hawk crash resulted in the deaths of four ISAF service members, three U.S. Forces-Afghanistan service members, three members of the Afghan National Security Forces, and one Afghan civilian interpreter. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed the four ISAF service members were also Americans.
No other details about the incident were immediately released, including the exact location of the crash. But Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the incident, saying it happened at around 11 a.m. local time in the Chinartu area of Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar province.
“A brave Mujahid (Muslim fighter) of Islamic Emirate (Taliban) shot down a U.S.-NATO helicopter with rocket fire…causing it to violently crash onto the ground and burst into flames which can still be observed from a distance,” Ahmadi said. “All the invaders and crew onboard were killed however their numbers are not known due to the area being cordoned off by the enemy.”
The Taliban’s claim of responsibility could not immediately be verified as the group frequently claims responsibility for accidents and attacks it was not responsible for. Officials at ISAF, the White House and the U.S. Defense Department said the cause of the crash is still being investigated.
On March 16, twelve Turkish soldiers and four civilians were killed when a Turkish Sikorsky-type helicopter, flying for ISAF, went down and clipped a house before crashing into another in the Bagrami district of Kabul province. It followed a deadly helicopter accident in southern Afghanistan in mid-January, killing six U.S. Marines.
And in August 2011, 30 U.S. troops, 7 Afghan service members and an Afghan interpreter were killed when a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed in the Tangi Valley of Wardak province. The incident represented the highest number of U.S. forces killed during a single event since the U.S.-led war began in late 2001.
A report released by U.S. Central Command in October 2011 confirmed the deadly crash was caused by an insurgent-fired rocket-propelled grenade which struck the CH-47′s aft rotor-blade as the aircraft approached its landing zone. The investigation found no evidence of a pre-planned ambush.
There are currently more than 129,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, including some 90,000 U.S. troops and more than 9,500 British soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama previously ordered a drawdown of 23,000 U.S. troops by the end of this summer, and foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.