ISAF denies Taliban downed helicopter

Oct. 3, 2012 at 10:08 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The Taliban have claimed credit for the downing of a NATO helicopter but international forces denied the allegation.

The NATO Boeing CH-47D Chinook twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift military transport helicopter crashed Monday Zabul province in southern Afghanistan.

The Taliban stated that, in addition to downing the helicopter, all aboard were killed.

International Security Assistance Force spokesman U.S. Army Maj. Adam Wojack confirmed that a Chinook helicopter crash-landed in southern Afghanistan.

However, he disputed the Taliban claim by saying, "While we can confirm an ISAF helicopter made a forced landing in Arghandab (Monday), the incident was not the result of enemy action or fire," adding that the incident caused no ISAF or Afghan casualties.

The Taliban frequently claim that any and all coalition aircraft that crash are brought down by their fire.

Helicopter transport is a mainstay of ISAF operations in Afghanistan, where roads are frequently bad or nonexistent.

The incident is the latest in a number of recent helicopter accidents for ISAF forces.

On Aug. 17 a U.S. Army Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash killed 11 occupants in southern Afghanistan. The helicopter went down in the Shah Wali Kot district, a rural area north of Kandahar, the former Taliban stronghold.

ISAF reported that the crash resulted in the deaths of seven U.S. ISAF soldiers, three members of the Afghan military and one Afghan civilian.

There have been 16 incidents involving ISAF helicopters in 2012. In the second deadliest aerial incident since the start of coalition operations in Afghanistan in November 2001, on March 16 a Turkish Army Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Kabul, killing all 12 Turkish soldiers and two Afghan interpreters on board and three civilians on the ground.

In four of the incidents this year the specific makes coalition helicopters weren't identified. As for the remaining 12 helicopters, three of the occurrences involved Boeing CH-47 Chinooks, two downed helicopters were Bell OH-58 Kiowas, two were Boeing two-man crew AH-64 Apaches, three were Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks and two were Sikorsky heavy-lift transport CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters.

In total the incidents this year have killed 50 personnel and injured three.

In an incident causing concern among British personnel, last month Prince Harry, third line to the British throne, deployed to Afghanistan's Camp Bastion base for four months to Fly AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.

Camp Bastion, home to coalition forces from several countries, is an extremely busy airport because of the heavy helicopter and plane traffic. Afghan army commander Sayed Malook said on Sept. 14, 20 Taliban fighters attacked the base, resulting in a firefight that lasted four hours, killing two U.S. Marines.

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