Taliban claims responsibility for brining U.S. helicopter down

Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for the downing of an American helicopter which crashed on Sunday in the southern Afghan province of Zabul, to the southwest of Deh Chopan.

All five troops on board were killed. According to the Arab information website Moheet, Taliban spokesperson Abdul Latif Hakimi says their men launched several rockets against the aircraft. He also claimed there were some 20 people on board, all of whom were killed, but US military officials have rejected all the claims.

US military command says it is still not known what caused the CH-47 Chinook helicopter to crash. Speaking in a news conference, spokesman Colonel James Yonts said: "There is no evidence of the involvement of enemy fire in the helipcopter crash. We do not have any evidence to back up what the Taliban claim."

The aircraft had been providing support for an operation on the ground at the time in the Deh Chopan area, a Taliban stronghold. It had already dropped off troops and was returning to base when it came down.

There have been several helicopter crashes in Afghanistan this year. The last was an accident last month in which 17 Spanish troops died when their helicopter crashed near Herat in western Afghanistan, the AKI reports.

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