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From Associated Press:
NATO Helicopter Crashes In Afghanistan
August 6, 2011
A helicopter crash in Afghanistan‘s eastern Wardak province has killed 31 U.S. special operation troops and seven Afghan soldiers, the country’s president said on Saturday. It was the highest number of casualties recorded in a single incident in the decade-long war.
President Hamid Karzai sent his condolences to President Barack Obama, according to a statement issued by his office.
“A NATO helicopter crashed last night in Wardak province,” Karzai said in the statement, adding that 31 American special operations troops were killed. “President Karzai expressed his deep condolences because of this incident and expressed his sympathy to Barack Obama.”
NATO confirmed the overnight crash and said the alliance was conducting a recovery operation at the site and investigating the cause of the crash, but did not release details or a casualty figure. The coalition said there “was enemy activity in the area.”
“We are aware of an incident involving a helicopter in eastern Afghanistan,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a NATO spokesman. “We are in the process of accessing the facts.”
A spokesman for Wardak province, Shahidullah Shahid, said the helicopter crashed in the Sayd Abad district of Wardak province. The volatile region borders the province of Kabul where the Afghan capital is located and is known for its strong Taliban presence.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed the downed aircraft was a U.S. military helicopter and that the Taliban fighters had brought it down with a rocket attack.
In a written statement released Saturday, Mujahid said that NATO attacked a house in Sayd Abad where insurgent fighters were gathering Friday night.
Mujahid said the Taliban fired on NATO and downed the helicopter, killing all the crew. He said eight insurgents also died.
In June 2005, 16 American troops were killed when a U.S. helicopter crashed in eastern Kunar province after apparently being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
At NATO headquarters in Brussels, an official said it was a twin-rotor Chinook helicopter. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was receiving his information from an Afghan officer in Kabul.
See also here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here.
‘Eight Afghan civilians killed’ in air strike
(AFP) – 5 hours ago
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Afghan civilians may have been caught up in a NATO air strike against suspected Taliban insurgents, a foreign military spokesman said Saturday, amid claims up to eight civilians died.
A local official said that an imam, his wife and their six children were killed by an air strike in Nad Ali district in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province Friday.
The incident appears to be the latest in which Afghan civilians have been accidentally killed by NATO military operations. The issue is highly sensitive in Afghanistan after nearly ten years of war.
Explaining what happened, district governor Shadi Khan said: “A group of Taliban attacked a foot patrol of NATO forces.
“Subsequently, an air strike targeted the house of an imam of a mosque in the area. As a result the imam, his wife and six of their children were killed.”
A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul said foreign troops had been to discuss the incident with local elders.
“A coalition patrol was attacked by insurgents armed with RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and small arms fire in Nad Ali district,” the spokesman said.
“The coalition forces responded with small arms fire and they continued with an air strike against the positions of insurgents.
“Shortly after the engagement, ISAF learned that civilians had been held captive by insurgents and may have been present during the strike.”
Helmand provincial spokesman Daud Ahmadi said he was “aware that there have been some civilian casualties as a result of a NATO air strike in Nad Ali district” and that an official delegation had been dispatched to investigate.
ISAF insists it takes all measures possible to limit the number of civilian casualties in its operations in Afghanistan.
But the issue has in the past provoked angry protests and in March, President Hamid Karzai appeared to say that foreign troops should stop all operations in Afghanistan because of the issue.
Copyright © 2011 AFP.
Deadliest military crashes in Afghanistan
Posted on August 6, 2011 at 9:06 AM
Some of the deadliest military air crashes in Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion on Oct. 7, 2001:
—Aug. 5, 2011: A CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashes in eastern Wardak province, killing 31 U.S. special operation troops and seven Afghan commandos.
—Sept. 21, 2010: U.S. Army Blackhawk crashes in southern Zabul province, killing nine troops on board, including four Navy SEALs.
—May 30, 2007: U.S. Chinook crashes while under fire in southern Helmand, killing one British, one Canadian and five American troops.
—Feb. 18, 2007: U.S. Chinook carrying 22 U.S. soldiers crashes in southern Zabul province, killing eight and injuring 14.
—Sept. 2, 2006: British Nimrod aircraft crashes near Kandahar in the south, killing 14 crew members.
—May 5, 2006: U.S. Chinook helicopter crashes while attempting a night landing on a small mountaintop in eastern Kunar province, killing 10 U.S. soldiers.
—Aug. 16, 2005: Spanish helicopter crashes near the western city of Herat, killing 17 Spanish soldiers.
—June 28, 2005: U.S. helicopter is shot down in eastern Kunar province during a rescue operation, killing 16 special operations troops.
—April 6, 2005: U.S. Chinook helicopter crashes in a sandstorm near eastern Ghazni, killing 15 American troops and three civilian contractors.
—Dec. 21, 2002: German army helicopter crashes in Kabul, killing seven German soldiers.
—March 4, 2002: U.S. Chinook helicopter is shot down in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven American troops.
Afghanistan: Winning hearts and minds
“Civilians are bearing the brunt of the international forces’ onslaught against the Taliban as the coalition rushes to pacify Afghanistan before pulling out its troops, it was claimed last night.
“Human rights groups warned that civilians are paying an increasingly high price for ‘reckless’ coalition attacks, particularly aerial ones. The [British] Ministry of Defence confirmed last week that five Afghan children were injured in an air strike carried out by a British Apache attack helicopter.
“The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) has found that the rate of civilian casualties has reached a record high, with 1,462 killed in January to June this year …
“Internal documents from the MoD’s steering group on combat identification, obtained by The Independent on Sunday, show that efforts to limit the death toll have been relegated to a ‘secondary consideration’, behind work to reduce the number of troops killed by ‘friendly fire’.”
— July 31 Independent
Afghanistan: Winning hearts and minds II
“The number of IED attacks in Afghanistan has spiked to all-time high, U.S. military officials said … Senior military officials said there were more than 1,600 strikes involving so-called ‘improvised explosive devices’ in June, setting a new record for the long Afghan war …
“The number of IED strikes in June 2011 is nearly 25 percent higher than the monthly average for the conflict. In May, for instance, there were 1,250 IED attacks.
“IEDs, crude bombs fashioned out of homemade explosives and simple triggering devices, are the primary cause of coalition fatalities in Afghanistan. So far this year, they have accounted for at least 158 of the U.S.-led coalition’s 283 battlefield fatalities in Afghanistan. And they are exacting a steadily climbing human toll: the bombs caused 1,248 coalition casualties between April and June, a 15 percent increase over the same period a year earlier.”
— August 3 National Journal
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