Copter dead in­clude five with 101st Air­borne

Afghan crash also killed U.S. spe­cial op­er­a­tions troops.

Los Angeles Times - - The World - David S. Cloud re­port­ing from Ba­gram air base, Afghanistan Laura King re­port­ing from Kabul, Afghanistan

The nine NATO coali­tion mem­bers who died in a heli­copter crash in south­ern Afghanistan early Tues­day in­cluded five U.S. sol­diers at­tached to the 101st Air­borne Di­vi­sion and at least some Amer­i­can spe­cial op­er­a­tions troops, ac­cord­ing to two U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cials.

The data recorder from the heli­copter has been re­cov­ered, one of­fi­cial said.

The crash oc­curred in Zabol prov­ince, a Tal­iban strong­hold near Kan­da­har prov­ince and the Pak­istani border. Kan­da­har is the fo­cus of a large of­fen­sive by U.S. forces that has been de­scribed as piv­otal by se­nior com­man­ders.

The Pen­tagon has not re­leased the names of the vic­tims, though it is ex­pected to do so soon. A me­mo­rial ser­vice for some of the Amer­i­cans is to be held at a base near Kan­da­har on Fri­day, the of­fi­cials said.

The U.S. of­fi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause de­tails of the crash had not been re­leased by the Pen­tagon. The with­hold­ing of such in­for­ma­tion more than 48 hours af­ter an event is un­usual; nor­mally the na­tion­al­i­ties and some­times the branch of ser­vice of slain NATO troops are dis­closed by the fol­low­ing day.

An Afghan sol­dier and an Amer­i­can civil­ian were in­jured in the crash, NATO’s In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity As­sis­tance Force said in a state­ment Tues­day.

The cause of the crash has not been dis­closed, but ISAF of­fi­cials said at the time that there were no re­ports of en­emy fire in the area. The Tal­iban said it downed the craft, but such claims of­ten prove false.

Tal­iban fight­ers have not shot down Western he­li­copters in large num­bers, though they did hit a Cana­dian chop­per last month in Kan­da­har prov­ince, in­jur­ing eight troops. An­other heli­copter was shot down in June in Hel­mand prov­ince, killing four Western troops.

U.S. spe­cial op­er­a­tions troops have stepped up op­er­a­tions in south­ern Afghanistan in re­cent months and of­ten travel the rugged re­gion at night by heli­copter. North At­lantic Treaty Or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fi­cials have said such raids have re­sulted in the ar­rests or deaths of thou­sands of mid-level Tal­iban fig­ures.

Else­where in Afghanistan, mil­i­tants at­tacked an out­post held by coali­tion and Afghan troops in the east­ern prov­ince of Khowst, NATO said. At least 25 in­sur­gents died, of­fi­cials said.

Gen. Raz Mo­ham­mad Ho­rya Khil, a se­nior com­man­der of the Afghan army in the prov­ince, said the as­sailants at­tacked the Mir Sa­far out­post from the Pak­istani side of the border late Tues­day in a bat­tle that lasted for more than two hours, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press. He­li­copters were called in to pro­vide sup­port.

In Copen­hagen, mean­while, mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties said a bomb in south­ern Afghanistan killed a Dan­ish sol­dier and se­ri­ously in­jured an­other, the news ser­vice re­ported.

At least 36 Danes have been killed serv­ing in Afghanistan, ac­cord­ing to the in­de­pen­dent web­site ica­s­u­al­

With sup­port for the war wa­ver­ing among NATO al­lies, com­bat ca­su­al­ties in na­tions with rel­a­tively small con­tin­gents in Afghanistan have pow­er­ful re­ver­ber­a­tions at home.

This has been the dead­li­est year for NATO forces in the nine-year war. With Tues­day’s crash, 529 mem­bers of the in­ter­na­tional force have been killed in 2010, ac­cord­ing to ica­s­u­al­ The pre­vi­ous high was in 2009, when 521 Western troops were killed. Com­bat deaths in June and July rose to the high­est lev­els of the con­flict.

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