Helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan kills 2 Americans

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (BNO NEWS) -- A coalition helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing two American service members, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and a U.S. military official said. It comes less than a week after another crash.

The helicopter came down in Logar province, reportedly setting off a heavy firefight between coalition troops and Taliban insurgents. ISAF spokesman Captain Dan Einert confirmed two ISAF service members were killed in the crash, who a U.S. military official in Washington, D.C. said were American.

"The crash resulted in the deaths of two International Security Assistance Force service members," Einert said. "It is far too early in the investigation to speak definitively about the cause of the crash. Pending the conclusion of the investigation additional information may be released as relevant."

But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed insurgents brought down the helicopter. "Amid bloody fighting Mujahideen (Muslim fighters) shot down a large Chinook helicopter, causing it to set on fire and killing all American terrorists aboard," he said. Military officials have not released the type of aircraft involved in the crash.

Mujahid said two Taliban insurgents were killed in the subsequent firefight but insisted the majority of casualties were among coalition troops. "The area has remained surrounded by the invaders and their puppets, whereas Mujahideen are still lying in ambush, ready to strike terror in the hearts of the American cowardly troops," he added.

The Taliban often exaggerates its account for propaganda purposes, and the group frequently claims credit for attacks which are later found to have been carried out by other insurgent groups or incidents which are determined to have been an accident. The insurgents are also known to fabricate false reports.

Wednesday's crash follows a number of other helicopter accidents in recent weeks. Two Australian Special Forces soldiers were killed on August 30 when an ISAF helicopter crashed in Helmand province, just two days after another ISAF helicopter made a hard landing in eastern Afghanistan.

And on August 16, seven American service members and four Afghans were killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in the Chinartu area of Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar province. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for that crash as well, but a formal cause has not yet been made public.

There are currently more than 129,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, including some 90,000 U.S. troops and more than 9,500 British soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama previously ordered a drawdown of 23,000 U.S. troops by the end of this summer, and foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

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