Helicopter crash being investigated: ISAF
KABUL(PAN): Thirty International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service members, one civilian interpreter, and seven Afghan commandos were killed when a coalition CH-47 Chinook crashed in Afghanistan early Saturday, the alliance said in a statement.
All of the ISAF soldiers on board were from the US, most belonging to the same elite Navy SEALs unit that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, US officials said on Sunday. None of those killed in the crash were personally involved in that raid.
An investigation was underway to determine the exact cause of the crash, the statement added, saying it was the deadliest single loss for American forces in the decade-old war against the Taliban.
The statement quoted General John R. Allen, the Commander of International Security Assistance Force as saying, “No words describe the sorrow we feel in the wake of this tragic loss.”
“All of those killed in this operation were true heroes who had already given so much in the defense of freedom. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who are now waiting for their loved ones to return home. We will do everything in our power to support them in this time of need,” he said, according to the statement.
“We also mourn the loss of our heroic Afghan partners who fight with us shoulder to shoulder, every day,” added Allen.
The ISAF helicopter was shot down in the Tangi valley of the Syedabad district of central Maidan Wardak province Friday night, the governor’s spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, told Pajhwok Afghan News on Saturday.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai was the first to announce the number of people killed in the crash and the presence of US special operations troops onboard.
He also offered his condolences to US President Barack Obama and the families of the American and Afghan troops killed in the crash.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack and said that 38 soldiers were killed.
The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with a rocket while it was taking part in a raid on a house where insurgents were gathering in the province of Wardak late Friday.
Wreckage of the craft was strewn across the crash site, a Taliban spokesman told the media.
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