Spanish helicopter crash in Afghanistan kills 17

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Map of Aghanistan

It has been confirmed that a NATO helicopter of the International Security Assistance Force has crashed near Herat, Western Afghanistan.

Two Eurocopter Cougar helicopters were apparently on a training mission for the forthcoming Afghan parliamentary elections when one of the aircraft crashed, killing twelve Spanish soldiers and five crew members. The second Cougar helicopter made a forced landing which injured five personnel.

A rescue team from ISAF was sent to the scene, evacuating the dead and wounded to a military hospital in Herat.

It is presently unknown whether the crash was the result of an accident or an attack by the Taliban or Al Qaida.

Initial reports suggest that the crash may have been caused by a sandstorm. A spokesman for the Spanish prime minister told CNN that there were no indications that the chopper was brought down by enemy fire.

Taliban commander Mullah Daldullah claimed to news agency Reuters that insurgents had shot the helicopter down.

Testimonial from one of the second helicopter soldiers would confirm the attack: "We felt a blast and fell down while turning"

NATO has currently some 8,500 ISAF soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, some 800 of them are Spanish.

It had been reported that the helicopter had experienced techinical problems before takeoff.

Sources

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