12 Turkish soldiers killed in Kabul helicopter crash

Twelve Turkish soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Friday, in what is believed to be Turkey's deadliest incident in Afghanistan, the military announced.

The Sikorsky helicopter belonged to the Turkish armed forces and was serving under the Kabul regional command as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission, the military said in a statement posted on its website.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said it appears to have occurred during an emergency landing due to technical problems according to preliminary findings.

"It is a grave accident... We have tremendous pain," Davutoglu told reporters.

The crash occurred at 10:25 am local time, according to the military.

The death toll is believed to be the heaviest thus far encountered by the Turkish army in war-torn Afghanistan.

Turkey, NATO's sole Muslim member, currently has 1,800 soldiers serving in the ISAF in Afghanistan.

In October, Turkey extended by another year its Kabul regional command of the ISAF.

Unlike other European members of ISAF, Turkey's mission is limited to patrols and its troops do not take part in combat operations.

by Usman Sharifi © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Mar 16, 2012