Russia's Interfax news agency reported that 15 people had been killed in the crash of a Russian-built Mi-8 helicopter.
   
"A Mi-8 transport helicopter crashed at take-off from an airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan," a spokesman for Russia's Federal Air Transportation Agency told Interfax on Sunday.

Interfax reported that the helicopter was carrying three crew members and 17 passengers.
   
"All crew members have been taken to a hospital in Kandahar. Fifteen of the 17 passengers were killed," the spokesman said.

He said the victims' nationalities have yet to be established.

'No enemy fire'

Lieutenant-Commander Christine Sidenstricker, a US military spokeswoman, said no enemy fire was reported near the helicopter.

No other details were immediately released.

The two incidents follow the downing of an Mi-6 transport helicopter in southern Afghanistan last week by the Taliban.

Six Ukrainian civilians and an Afghan child on the ground died in that crash.

The US has sent 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and chosen a new commander to lead the international effort.

A major offensive against the Taliban is continuing with about 4,000 US marines, backed by the Afghan army, operating in districts such as Nawa and Garamsir.