Nine troops killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

Nine service members with the international coalition in Afghanistan died today when their helicopter crashed in the volatile south where troops are ramping up pressure on Taliban insurgents.

One other coalition service member, an Afghan National Army soldier and a US civilian were injured and taken to a military medical centre for treatment, Nato said.

Nato said there were no reports of enemy fire in the area.

The deaths raise to 37 the number of international soldiers killed so far this month in Afghanistan, including at least 29 US troops.

Helicopters are used extensively by both Nato and the Afghan government forces to transport and supply troops spread out across a mountainous country with few roads. Losses have been relatively light, despite insurgent fire and difficult conditions, and most crashes have been accidents caused by maintenance problems or factors such as dust.

Today’s crash happened in north-western Zabul province, according to a Nato official.

Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, a spokesman for the provincial governor in Zabul, said the helicopter went down in Daychopan district.

It was the deadliest helicopter crash in Afghanistan in years.

A Chinook crashed in February 2007 in Zabul, killing eight US personnel.

In May 2006, a Chinook crashed while attempting a night-time landing on a small mountaintop in eastern Kunar province, killing 10 US soldiers. That followed a crash in Kunar in 2005 which killed 16 Americans.

The most recent helicopter crash before this one occurred in southern Kandahar province in August when a Canadian Chinook was shot down, injuring eight Canadians.

In July in southern Helmand province, a chopper crash killed two US service members. The Taliban claimed it had shot it down. Nato said at the time that it was investigating.

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