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Nato Chinook in crash-landing

A Nato helicopter crash-landed today in eastern Afghanistan, just days after the downing of a Chinook dispatched to bring in reinforcements for elite troops under attack.

Nato did not report any casualties in the latest incident and said the cause is under investigation. The coalition said there was no enemy activity in the area at the time.

The helicopter was a CH-47 flying in Paktia province to pick up special operations troops, but it apparently suffered a mechanical failure and crash-landed, an officer in the war zone said. The crew were rescued by troops.

The hard-landing came after another Chinook was apparently shot down on Saturday in eastern Wardak province as it rushed to assist Army Rangers who had come under fire, a number of US officials said.

Thirty Americans and eight Afghans - seven commandos and a civilian translator - were killed in the crash, making it the deadliest single loss for US forces in the decade-long war in Afghanistan.

A current and a former US official said the Americans included 22 Seals, three Air Force members and a dog handler and his dog.

All but two of the Seals were from Seal Team 6, the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, officials said, although none of the men took part in that mission.

The Rangers, special operations forces who work regularly with the Seals, secured the crash site in the Tangi Joy Zarin area of Wardak province, about 60 miles south-west of the capital Kabul, one of the officials said.

The heavy loss shows that clandestine tactics carry huge risks despite the success of the Seal mission that killed bin Laden more than three months ago.

The US-led coalition plans to rely more on special operations missions as it reduces the overall number of combat troops by the end of 2014.

There were conflicting accounts late yesterday as to whether the Seal team had subdued the attackers who had pinned down the Rangers and were departing, or whether they were hit as they tried to land. One official said they had accomplished their mission, but another said it was hit as it approached.

Nato was recovering the remains of the twin rotor Chinook helicopter.

Eight Taliban fighters were also killed in the battle, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement.