Afghanistan: Army helicopter crashes in Baghlan

Official says crash in Baghlan was due to technical problem, but Taliban claims responsibility for helicopter’s downing.

Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Kabul
The Taliban issued a statement claiming responsibility for downing the helicopter [File:Paul Miller/EPA]

A military helicopter has crashed in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan province, killing all eight people on board, officials have told Al Jazeera.

The crash took place on Sunday in Dand-e-Ghori district while the helicopter was supplying a military base.

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Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghan defence ministry, said that five crew members and three army soldiers were killed in the crash.

Waziri blamed a technical problem which “caused the helicopter to catch fire and hit the ground”, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Yet, the Taliban issued a statement claiming responsibility for downing the helicopter, saying it was shot down by the armed group’s fighters.

Local officials in Baghlan also told Al Jazeera that the Taliban had shot down the helicopter as it was trying to provide logistics support to the ground forces in Dand-e-Ghori, close to the provincial capital of Pul-e-Khumri city.

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Qarghan Tapa base has been surrounded by the Taliban for a week, leaving more than a hundred soldiers trapped inside, according to the officials who spoke to the AP news agency on condition of anonymity.

They said all roads to the base have been shut off by the fighters and the only way to supply the soldiers was by air.

Earlier this year, Afghan security forces launched a major operation to clear Dand-e-Ghori from the Taliban, as the armed group was trying to create safe havens for their spring offensive.

Taliban fighters have recently increased their attacks on Afghan forces in northern Baghlan and neighbouring Kunduz provinces.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies