UK & World News

  • 26 April 2014, 19:46

Five Die As UK Helicopter Crashes in Afghanistan

Five people have died after a British helicopter crashed in Afghanistan, with all those on board thought to be members of UK armed forces.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the victims of the suspected accident in the south of the country were military service personnel.

An investigation has been launched into the circumstances of the incident but the MoD said it could not confirm the nationality of the troops who died.

A spokesman for the ministry said: "We can confirm that a UK helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan today.

"The incident is under investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment further until families have been notified."

Kandahar provincial police spokesman Zia Durranisaid the helicopter went down in the Takhta Pul district ofKandahar province, around 30 miles from the Pakistan border - and that itwas not attacked by militants.

"It was doing military exercises and crashed as a result of technical fault," he said.

Reports suggested the helicopter involved was likely to have been a Westland Lynx Mk 9, an aircraft with a range of uses, including transport and resupply.

The vehicle normally carries a crew of three, including a pilot, co-pilot and gunner. It is thought the other two military personnel on board could have been travelling as passengers.

Defence analyst Paul Beaver said: "It is difficult to speculate on what has happened, but it sounds like this was a flying accident instead of a case of the aircraft being shot down.

"It could be weather related, it could be dust or it could have been trying to avoid birds, for example, or it could be some kind of mechanical failure. There is a whole range of possible causes."

If the victims are confirmed to be British, it would be the worst UK air crash in Afghanistan since September 2006, when a Nimrod surveillance aircraft exploded in mid-air while supporting Nato ground operations near Kandahar.

All 14 servicemen on board that aircraft were killed.

Saturday's incident was the bloodiest day for international troops in Afghanistan this year.

It brings the number of foreign troops killed in the war-hit country in April to seven. A total of 23 have died in 2014.

Natois preparing to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan at the end of this year, 13 years after the US-led invasion to topple the Taliban for sheltering al Qaeda leaders.

Concerned family members of military service personnel can contact the MoD on 08457 800 900.

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