US army to investigate Afghan crash

A US army team is expected to arrive from America to investigate the cause of the deadliest crash of a US military helicopter in Afghanistan, a statement has said.

    Sixteen American servicemen died in Wednesday's crash

    The team is due on Saturday to take over an investigation under way by the US military at the site of Wednesday's crash that killed 18 people, including 16 American servicemen, in the desert terrain of Ghazni province, about 120km to the southwest of the capital. 

    Local officials and the US military said at the time the CH-47 Chinook helicopter, one of two on a mission in the unstable south region, crashed in a sandstorm. 

    The other helicopter arrived back safely at Bagram airfield, the hub of US-led operations in Afghanistan, just north of Kabul. 

    Previous incidents

    Several US military helicopters have been shot down or have crashed in Afghanistan since US-led troops toppled the Taliban in 2001, but Wednesday's incident was the deadliest. 

    US-led soldiers are fighting a
    Taliban-led insurgency

    Lieutenant Cindy Moore, a spokeswoman for the US military in Kabul, said she did not know if teams from the United States had been dispatched to investigate previous crashes. 

    She said there was no indication that Taliban fighters were responsible for downing the aircraft, as claimed by a Taliban spokesman, or of a powerful blast that some witnesses said they heard before the crash. 

    The statement said the remains of the 18 people had been removed from the wreckage and would be flown overseas for positive identification. 

    The US has lost more than 100 military personnel since deploying troops to Afghanistan following the Taliban's fall, but most of the deaths have been in accidents. 

    Wednesday's crash came amid renewed violence in Afghanistan and after four US soldiers were killed on 26 March when their vehicle struck a landmine in the southeast of the country. 

    About 17,000 US-led soldiers are in Afghanistan fighting a Taliban-led insurgency.  

    SOURCE: Reuters


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