Six US troops were killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, officials said Friday, indicating the incident was not believed to be the result of enemy fire.
The helicopter, a CH-53 Sea Stallion, went down in the volatile Helmand province, according to one US official who said: "Initial indications are that this was not hostile fire."
The dead were members of the US military, another US official told AFP.
In a brief statement, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the cause of the crash was under investigation.
"However, initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash," it said.
The helicopter came down in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province at around 10:00 pm (0530 GMT) on Thursday "due to technical failure", the provincial Afghan army corps commander Sayed Mulook told AFP.
Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Taliban militia, which is leading a 10-year insurgency against the Afghan government and tens of thousands of NATO troops, claimed the insurgents had shot down the helicopter.
Mulook rejected the claim.
The Sea Stallion is a heavy transport aircraft capable of carrying about 40 people. The US officials did not say whether anyone else was on board, other than the six victims.
An ISAF spokesman told AFP in Kabul that the crash occurred late Thursday.
He stressed that "there was no enemy around", but could not give further information such as the terrain at the crash site or the weather.
In August, 30 US troops were killed when Taliban insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter, in the deadliest incident for US and NATO forces since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001.
The dead included 17 Navy SEALs and five other Navy sailors assigned to the SEAL unit. Seven Afghan troops and an interpreter were also killed.
Most of the Navy commandos came from the same SEAL team credited with killing Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a May raid in Pakistan.
by Shafiq Alam Â© 2012 AFP
Date: Jan 20, 2012