Nine killed as Nato helicopter crashes in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

A Nato helicopter crashed yesterday, killing nine international troops in a region of southern Afghanistan where there has been fierce fighting. It was the deadliest helicopter crash for the coalition in four years.

A "large number" of Americans were among the dead but it remained unclear whether soldiers of other nationalities were killed, said a senior military official in Washington. An Afghan soldier and a US civilian were injured.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear. The Taliban claimed to have shot down the aircraft in Zabul province – an area of rugged terrain where helicopters are used to transport troops across mountainous regions that have few roads. However, Nato said no reports of hostile fire before the crash had been received.

So far this year, 525 US and Nato forces have been killed in Afghanistan, surpassing the 504 killed last year. This year has been the deadliest for international forces since the war began in 2001.

The helicopter went down in north-western Zabul province in the early morning. A spokesman for the provincial governor said the incident happened in Daychopan district. The Nato contingent in Zabul is dominated by US and Romanian forces.

The deadliest crash of the war killed 16 American special forces soldiers when a Chinook was shot down by the Taliban in Kunar province in 2005.

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