Conflict & Justice

NATO helicopter crash-lands in Afghanistan

Another coalition helicopter has crash landed in a volatile province east Afghanistan just days after a Chinook helicopter was apparently shot down, killing 30 U.S. troops.

There were no casualties in the "hard landing" on Monday, officials said, despite claims by the Taliban that 33 U.S. soldiers had died, the Guardian reports.

NATO said an investigation had been launched to determine what triggered the emergency landing — just two days after insurgents shot down a different coalition helicopter, killing 30 U.S. troops and eight Afghans, the Washington Post reports. (Read more at Taliban laid elaborate trap for U.S. forces)

The incident occurred in Paktia province but it did not appear to be the result of enemy fire.

“Initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the incident,” the coalition said in a statement about Monday’s incident, the Washington Post reports.

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Lieutenant Colonel David Doherty confirmed there were no casualties in Monday's incident and an investigation was under way.

However, a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed in a text message to Reuters that the group had shot down the helicopter, also a Chinook, in the Zurmat district of Paktia, and that 33 American soldiers had died, the Guardian reports.

The Taliban often exaggerates, although it correctly identified the number killed in Friday's Chinook crash, it says.

The shooting down of the helicopter on Saturday in Maidan Wardak province was the deadliest single incident for American forces so far  in the conflict in Afghanistan.

There has also been a surge in the number of civilian deaths.

The Guardian reports:

On Monday, 300 Afghans took to the streets in Ghazni province carrying the bodies of two people they claimed had been killed during a raid by ISAF troops.

Civilian deaths caused by fighting between foreign troops and insurgents have been a major source of friction between the government in Kabul and its western backers for some time. UN figures show those casualties hit record levels in the first six months of 2011, although it blamed 80% of them on insurgents.

Another ISAF spokesman, Captain Pietro D'Angelo, said two insurgents had been killed after a patrol came under attack. "There are no reports of civilians harmed during this operation," he added.

Nato officials are still investigating the cause of Friday's helicopter crash that killed 38 people, including 30 U.S. soldiers, seven Afghans and an interpreter.

The majority were from Navy Seal Team 6, the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, but are not the same personnel, the Guardian reports.

The Taliban claim to have shot down that troop-carrying CH-47 Chinook in Maidan, Wardak province, and a US official in Washington, who asked not to be identified, also said the helicopter was believed to have been shot down, it says.