Eight peacekeepers killed in Sinai helicopter crash: Officials

Helicopter belonged to an international peacekeeping force; five Americans are among the dead, Israeli official says.

The international force that monitors the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement said that eight peacekeepers, including six Americans, were killed when one of its helicopters crashed during a routine mission in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. A ninth peacekeeper was badly injured.

The Multinational Force and Observers said a French peacekeeper and Czech member of the force were also killed in the crash on Thursday, which it said appeared to be an accident.

It did not release the names of the dead, pending notification of their families. It said the injured peacekeeper was American.

The MFO said the helicopter crashed during a routine mission near Sharm el-Sheikh, a popular Egyptian resort city on the Red Sea, and that an investigation was underway. It did not give a precise location of the crash or say whether the helicopter fell on land or crashed into the sea.

An Egyptian official speaking on condition of anonymity per regulations, told The Associated Press that the helicopter crashed over Red Sea waters outside Egyptian territorial boundaries.

Armed groups affiliated with the ISIL (ISIS) group are known to be active in Sinai. But the MFO said there were no signs of an attack.

“At this point, there is no information to indicate the crash was anything except an accident,” it said.

The peacekeeping force flew the survivor into the resort of Eilat, Israel, from where he was then taken by an Israeli copter to a hospital further north.

Israeli news channel i24 quoted Israeli sources, who requested anonymity, as saying: “Transfer of the injured passengers, which would be carried by the Israeli army to Soroka medical hospital in the city of Beersheba, southern Israel, was cancelled after it became clear that a number of the passengers had died of their wounds.”

Founded after Egypt’s 1979 peace deal with Israel, the MFO has drawn troops from the United States, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Fiji, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Britain and Uruguay. It is based in Rome.

Its responsibilities include monitoring troop levels along the border and ensuring the freedom of navigation through the Strait of Tiran.

Source : News Agencies

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