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U.S. Copter Crashes in Afghanistan

The aircraft was downed by rebels. All 17 Special Operations troops aboard are feared dead.

June 29, 2005|Mark Mazzetti and John Hendren | Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — Afghan insurgents shot down a U.S. Army helicopter carrying 17 Special Operations troops in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan, possibly killing all of those on board, U.S. defense and intelligence officials said Tuesday.

The Chinook helicopter carrying Navy SEALs and Army Special Operations troops was on a mission to provide reinforcement to other U.S. forces battling Afghan militia fighters near Asadabad, the capital of Kunar province.

Gov. Asadullah Wafa told Associated Press that the Taliban downed the aircraft with a rocket, but he gave no further details. Associated Press also reported that before news of the crash was released, it received a call from a man who identified himself as a Taliban spokesman and claimed that the rebels had shot down the helicopter.

A senior U.S. military official with knowledge of the incident said early reports indicated that a rocket-propelled grenade ripped through the helicopter's fuselage.

The U.S. military in Afghanistan said this morning that 17 personnel were on the aircraft. Military commanders in Afghanistan dispatched a team of Army Rangers to the crash site Tuesday, but there were few details about the fate of the helicopter's passengers.

Officials said there was little indication that anyone aboard survived.

Tuesday's incident was the second crash of a Chinook in Afghanistan in the last three months, the first being an accident. On April 6, a Chinook went down in a dust storm southwest of Kabul, the capital, while on a routine mission, killing 18 people, including 15 military personnel.

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