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Fourteen dead after chopper crashes into house

Published: March 17, 2012 | 9:30 am
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FOURTEEN people, including two children, are dead after a NATO helicopter crashed into a house and burst into flames on the outskirts of Kabul, officials said.

The crash killed 12 Turkish soldiers on board and two young girls on the ground, Turkish and Afghan officials say.

The helicopter, a Sikorsky, was on a mission for US-led NATO forces when it went down near Kabul on Friday, the Turkish military said in a statement.

“Twelve of our military personnel on board were martyred,” it said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said it appeared that the helicopter crashed while trying to make an emergency landing and that the pilot tried to avoid houses.

“It is a grave accident, our grief is deep,” he said.

A spokesman for the US-led NATO force in Kabul confirmed the helicopter was operated by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

“We are investigating the cause of the crash but there were no reports of insurgent activity in the area,” he said.

There was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash, said NATO.

The helicopter clipped one house and then crashed into another, said Sayed Qayum, an Afghan resident who witnessed the aircraft go down.

The crash about 10.25am (1655 AEDT) blew several large holes in the two-storey brick house that was hit. Parts of the building were scorched black by fire, and wreckage of the helicopter was scattered outside. One piece had a red and white Turkish flag painted on it.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said the two people who were killed on the ground were young girls. A woman and another child were wounded, it said.

The aircraft went down in Hassian Khail area of Bagrami district of Kabul province.

The crash was the deadliest in Afghanistan for NATO forces since August, when 30 American troops died when a Chinook helicopter was apparently shot down in Wardak province in the center of the country.

Turkey, NATO’s sole Muslim member, currently has around 1800 soldiers serving in the US-led ISAF deployed in Kabul and the neighbouring province of Wardak in the north.

In October, Turkey extended by another year its Kabul regional command of the ISAF. Unlike its European allies, Turkey’s mission is limited to patrols and its troops do not take part in combat operations.

Turkey refused a combat role against Islamist insurgents in a country where it has historically close ties with Afghans.


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