Deadly Turkish army helicopter crash in Afghanistan

  • 16 March 2012
  • From the section Europe

A Turkish army Sikorsky helicopter has fallen on a house in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing at least 12 Turkish soldiers and two children.

It crashed into a house in the suburb of Bagrami while on a peacekeeping mission, the Turkish military said.

The cause of the crash has not been established, it added, and a Nato official said there were no reports of insurgent activity.

The deaths are the worst single loss of life of Turkish troops in Afghanistan.

Turkey currently has 1,845 soldiers serving as peacekeepers.

It is the only Muslim-majority member of Nato, which leads the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

Turkish soldiers with Isaf are limited to patrols and do not take part in combat operations.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the helicopter appeared to crash while trying to make an emergency landing and that the pilot tried to avoid houses.

"It is a grave accident, our grief is deep," he said.

Afghan police said two children had been killed in the crash, as well as at least one woman, but it was not clear if the woman was on the helicopter.

As searchers combed the rubble of the collapsed house, local resident Sayed Qayum said, quoted by the Associated Press news agency, that the helicopter had clipped one house before crashing into a second.

Another, Asadullah Khan, described what had happened for Reuters news agency.

"When this helicopter crashed into this house, a number of people who were watching the incident were wounded, including women and children," he said.

"They were taken to the hospital. Two people in this house suffered burns."

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