LONDON: Five troops were killed yesterday in a British military helicopter crash in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence in London said, with the cause of the incident under investigation.
The identities of those on board have yet to be confirmed, though sources said they are all thought be to British service personnel.
The crash in southern Afghanistan is the largest single loss of life for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) since a US helicopter crashed in December after being hit in a Taliban insurgent attack.
“The MoD can confirm that a UK helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan yesterday,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The incident is under investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment further until families have been notified.”
ISAF said five troops had died in the crash, while it was “reviewing the circumstances to determine more facts”.
The ISAF statement did not name the province where the crash occurred and made no reference to whether any insurgents were active in the area.
But local officials in southern Afghanistan said the helicopter came down in volatile Kandahar and was not attacked by militants.
“A helicopter belonging to Nato troops has crashed in Takhta Pul, Kandahar province,” said Zia Durrani, the provincial police spokesman.
“It was doing military exercises and crashed as a result of technical fault.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility from insurgents.
Six US troops were killed in the December attack when a Blackhawk chopper went down in the southern province of Zabul.
Immediately after that crash, US officers suggested the helicopter had come down due to a mechanical failure but that the crew may then have come under fire. Officials later said that Taliban militants brought down the aircraft.
Aircraft crashes have been a regular risk for the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, with troops relying heavily on air transport to battle the Taliban insurgency across the south and east of the country. AFP