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Afghanistan: 38 Troops (31 US) Killed as Helicopter Shot Down by Taliban
06/08/2011 17:27:00
A Chinook helicopter similar to one in picture was shot down by Taliban in Afghanistan killing 38 troops

In the deadliest single attack on foreign troops by the Taliban since the Afghanistan war began in 2001, 31 US special forces and seven Afghan soldiers have been killed after the Taliban shot down a NATO helicopter, it has been reported.

Officials at Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office said 31 US special forces and seven local soldiers died during the attack on the Chinook, with a senior US official confirming that the helicopter was apparently shot down by insurgents. It was struck during a firefight.

The Taliban were quick to claim responsibility for the incident during an anti-Taliban operation in an insurgent-infested district of the eastern province of Wardak, just southwest of the Afghan capital Kabul. The attack came during a late-night operation against Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan Presidential office said in a statement: "The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai expressed condolences over a NATO helicopter crash and the deaths of 31 members of US special forces."

It added that seven Afghans were also killed in the crash, who the country's defence ministry said were also members of the special forces.

The strike was by far the worst to hit foreign troops in the near decade-long war. The previous worst saw 16 American soldiers killed in 2005 when a Taliban rocket hit their Chinook in the eastern province of Kunar.

A witness by the name of Mohammad Saber, reportedly told Sky News: "We were at home. We saw one of the helicopters land on the roof of a house of a Taliban commander, then shooting started. The helicopter later took off but soon after taking off it went down and crashed. There were other helicopters flying as well."

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said it was responsible for shooting down the helicopter and acknowledged that eight insurgents had been killed.

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