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Two Americans killed in air crash in Afghanistan

April 09, 2013|By Mark Magnier | This post has been updated. See the note below for details.

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two U.S. troops died in eastern Afghanistan after their aircraft crashed Tuesday, military officials said.

The U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force said the cause of the crash, which took place in a field, is under investigation, although early indications are that there was no enemy activity nearby.

Media reports said the accident involved a helicopter, but ISAF spokesman John Manley declined to verify the type of aircraft involved until the service members' next of kin are notified.

[Updated 12:58 p.m. April 9: An ISAF announcement later described the aircraft as a helicopter.]

Foreign troops in Afghanistan often travel aboard helicopters and other aircraft to avoid roadside bombs and other ground-based dangers.

The deaths raise the number of Americans killed this month in the country to nine, including three civilians, and the number killed this year to 25, according to a tally by the Associated Press.

With three weeks still to go, April has so far been 2013's worst month for foreign and Afghan troop fatalities. That doesn’t augur well for the warmer months ahead, when fighting tends to pick up after the brutal Afghan winter.

The violence comes as the ISAF is handing over more security responsibility to Afghan forces in advance of the scheduled withdrawal of foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.

Also on Tuesday, a roadside bomb killed three Afghan civilians as they drove in the Nawa district of southern Helmand province, according to local Afghan media.

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International urged all players in the Afghan conflict to stop killing civilians. Monday saw at least nine civilians killed when a bus hit a roadside bomb in eastern Wardak province. On Saturday, at least 12 civilians in eastern Kunar province were said to have been killed by a NATO airstrike called in after a Taliban attack. NATO said it is investigating that claim.

Last Wednesday, at least 41 civilians were killed and over 100 injured in an attack on a court compound in southwestern Farah province.

“All parties to the conflict must make a distinction between civilians and combatants,” Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s deputy Asia-Pacific director, said in a statement. “The laws of war prohibit indiscriminate attacks, and deliberately targeting civilians for attack is a war crime.”

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, about 2,750 civilians were killed in the conflict in 2012, with the Taliban and other insurgent groups responsible for 79% of those deaths, largely tied to the indiscriminate use of roadside bombs and targeted killings of civilians. International and Afghan forces were responsible for 8% of the deaths, the organization said.

Also Tuesday, the British Defense Ministry said the last Royal Marines commando group serving in Afghanistan was heading home, ending over a decade of service by the Royal Marines in the country.

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