South Asia News
Turkish soldiers, Afghans killed in helicopter crash
Mar 16, 2012, 12:45 GMT
Kabul - Twelve Turkish soldiers and at least two Afghan civilians were killed Friday when a helicopter belonging to foreign forces crashed into a house in Kabul.
The Sikorsky helicopter came down at 1025 am (0825 GMT), killing all 12 military personnel on board, the Turkish military high command said in a statement on its website.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at least five civilians on the ground had also died.
But a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry said only two civilians were confirmed dead - two Afghan girls who were in the house on which the helicopter crashed - while a police officials said three others were also injured.
The accident marked the deadliest single day for the Turkish mission in Afghanistan, which comprises more than 1,800 soldiers, mostly in non-combative role.
According to iCasualties.org, a tally website for the international forces, only two Turkish soldiers had died, in a vehicle accident, before Friday's incident.
The helicopter went down in the Bagrami district of Kabul city ahead of the start of Friday prayers.
The NATO-led alliance said there were no insurgent activities in the area at the time of the crash, while Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the crash was probably caused by a technical fault.
NATO-member Turkey has limited its mission in Afghanistan to mostly patrolling and training. The majority of its soldiers are based around the capital.
Turkey has invested heavily in education and other development projects and Afghans do not hold resentment against their fellow Muslims.
Friday's accident was the fourth, and the deadliest involving a helicopter in Afghanistan this year.
In August, 30 US troops died when a Chinook helicopter was apparently shot down by the Taliban in Wardak province, the deadliest such incident since the US-led war started in 2001.
Friday's crash came amid growing tension between Afghanistan and it's US and NATO allies.
In a blow to NATO-led transition plan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday demanded that all security responsibilities be handed from foreign to Afghan forces by 2013 - a year ahead of schedule.
The US later said it will remain committed to the Afghan-led political reconciliation and stick with the time frame that calls for international forces to shift to a support role in 2013 and hand over full security to Afghan troops in 2014.
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