Afghanistan: Taliban 'Shot Down' US Helicopter

Mustafa Kazemi, in Kabul
Afghanistan: Taliban 'Shot Down' US Helicopter

A US Army helicopter has crashed amid fighting in eastern Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has confirmed.

The Taliban has taken responsibility for downing the OH-58 Kiowa Scout aircraft, from which both crew members were rescued.

The helicopter was supporting a combat mission in the region, where the American military alongside other Nato member-nations' troops have been fighting a large-scale insurgency as part of the ISAF.

Major Adam Wolfjack, a spokesman for ISAF joint command, told Sky News "both crew members [of the crashed helicopter] were extracted following the incident".

He said "there were combat activities ongoing in the vicinity of the crash site" but would not say exactly where the helicopter - normally used for observation and gathering data and intelligence during combat operations - had come down.

Shortly after the crash, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said they "shot down" the helicopter in the Tagab district of Kapisa province.

The ISAF would not comment on why the crash occurred, saying it usually took weeks to investigate and determine a cause.

It came as the police chief of the Kushenda district of northern Balkh province and three of his bodyguards were killed when the vehicle they were travelling in hit a landmine.

Abdul Razaq Qaaderi, from Balkh province police, told Sky News the explosion was caused by a remote-controlled bomb buried in the road.

He added that an officer travelling with the group in a Ford truck belonging to Afghan police was seriously wounded in the attack - which the Taliban has also claimed responsibility for.

The US military has sustained a large number of casualties and combat equipment losses in the 12 years of their counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, which is the largest and most active terrorist group in the country, has often claimed responsibility for attacks on Nato and Afghan forces.

Led by the US, international combat forces are due to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, although many Afghans worry about the government's ability to uphold peace in the country after foreign troops depart.