38 killed after US helicopter crashes in Afghanistan

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

38 people were killed on Saturday when a US Chinook helicopter crashed west of Kabul, Afghanistan, with the Taliban claiming responsibility for the crash.

Thirty Americans were killed in the crash, including at least seventeen members of SEAL Team 6, Air Force members, the helicopter's crew, a dog handler and a civilian interpreter, while eight members of the Afghan Army were also on board and died.

According to witnesses, members of the Taliban and officials from the US and Afghanistan, the Chinook was deliberately targeted, apparently by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG). While no American officials have spoken on the record about the cause of the crash, anonymous sources have said that the helicopter was shot down, an assertion that corresponds with reports from local officials and witness, who said that the helicopter crashed after a rocket struck it.

The Taliban said that they had brought the aircraft down while it was involved in an operation targeting a house where insurgents were meeting. While Taliban forces do not have a history of shooting down aircraft, they claim to have modified their RPGs for improved accuracy, but there is no proof of this.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, warned against leaping to conclusions, however, saying that "[i]nformation is still coming in about this incident. I think it's important that we allow investigators to do their work before jumping to too many conclusions."

President Barack Obama issued a statement after the incident, saying that "[t]heir deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan."