Five British members of the US-led NATO force in Afghanistan died in a helicopter crash on Saturday, NATO officials said. The loss brings the total number of British fatalities in Afghanistan to 453, eight months before a planned withdrawal.
The helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan appeared to be a "tragic accident", the Ministry of Defence in London said.
The Lynx helicopter crashed during a routine flight in Kandahar province, killing three members of the Army Air Corps, a member of the Royal Air Force and an army reservist with military intelligence, the MoD said.
It is the largest single loss of life for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) since a US helicopter crashed in December after being hit in a Taliban insurgent attack.
Taliban militants said their fighters had shot down the British helicopter, although the insurgent group often makes erroneous claims of responsibility.
The incident brings to seven the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan this month.
The NATO force is preparing to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan at the end of this year, and it has already turned over the job of fighting the Taliban insurgency to the Afghan army and police.
Violence has increased in Afghanistan ahead of the NATO withdrawal and also in the weeks leading up to the country’s April 5 election. Preliminary results of the vote are due later Saturday.
Also Saturday, an Afghan university official identified the two Americans killed in a shooting at a Kabul hospital earlier this week.
The vice chancellor of Kabul University, Mohammad Hadi Hadayati, named the two as health clinic administrator Jon Gabel and his visiting father, Gary.
Hadayati said that Jon Gabel’s wife was wounded in the attack Thursday saw that an Afghan police security guard open fire as the family entered the grounds of Cure International Hospital.
The Gabel family was visiting pediatrician Dr. Jerry Umanos of Chicago, who was also killed in the shooting.
Hadayati said Jon Gabel ran a clinic at the university providing low-cost medicine and also volunteered to teach computer classes.
He said Gabel worked with US charity Morning Star Development.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)
Date created : 2014-04-26