US helicopter with 17 on board believed to have been shot down in Afghanistan

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Image from Taliban site The Taliban claim to have shot down the helicopter using a rocket.

The US military has confirmed that 17 servicemen were onboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter that has crashed near Asadabad, Afghanistan, on June 28. The fate of the men being transported to an area of Al-Qaeda resistance is unknown.

Coalition and Afghan troops moved into the area to secure the site and other coalition aircraft have been sent to assist. The crash occurred high up in mountainous terrain, and is believed to have been the result of hostile fire. Efforts to search for the crash site are being met by bad weather and harsh terrain.

The helicopter was transporting forces as part of ongoing operations to fight militants who operate in the area, and who have recently been escalating their attacks.

The Taliban claimed they shot the helicopter down. A man claiming to be a spokesman for the Taliban, Abdul Latif Hakimi, reported the downing of the helicopter to offices in Kabul before news of the crash was released by the U.S. military. The Hakimi relationship to the Taliban is unclear, and his reports are sometimes inaccurate. He claimed that video footage of the attack would be posted to a Taliban Web site at the address The New York Times reported the site appeared blocked later in the day on Wednesday, although the site is still visible in Google's cache.

At least 29 service men have died in Afghanistan this year, while at least 450 people have been killed in the last three months, mostly militants. A Chinook which crashed in April with the loss of 18 lives was brought down by a sandstorm.