14 Americans die in helicopter crashes in Afghanistan


KABUL — Fourteen Americans died Monday in helicopter crashes
in southern and western Afghanistan, one of the deadliest days for the United
States in the Afghanistan war.

Ten died when a helicopter went down in western Afghanistan,
and four were killed in a mid-air collision between two helicopters in southern
Afghanistan, according to NATO officials in Kabul. The death toll could climb
higher, as some of the 14 U.S. survivors in the two crashes were critically
injured, the International Security Assistance Force said.

Both appeared to be accidents.

“In both incidents, there is no evidence of hostile
fire,” said Capt. Mike Andrews, a NATO spokesman in Kabul.

A total of 911 American troops have died in the Afghan war,
now entering its ninth year, 281 of them this year, according to
icasualties.org, a Web site that tracks casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Helicopters are lifelines for American troops in
Afghanistan, ferrying supplies and people to locations that often are too
dangerous or too remote to reach by road and providing aerial firepower against
insurgent forces.

NATO officials wouldn’t immediately say exactly where the
crashes occurred or what types of helicopters were involved. They said they
wanted to wait until recovery operations were complete and the next of kin were

In the southern Afghanistan collision, NATO officials said,
four service members died and two were injured.

The western Afghanistan crash involved a helicopter that was
carrying U.S. and Afghan forces and American civilians to a compound that was
being searched for drugs. Insurgents attacked during the operation, and the
resulting firefight killed 12 of the enemy forces, according to NATO officials.

As the troops were departing the area, the helicopter
crashed, killing seven U.S. service members and three civilian government

“Today the U.S. Embassy mourns the loss of three
civilian members of our … community and seven members of the U.S.
military,” said a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan.

Fourteen Afghans, 11 American service members and one
American civilian were injured in that crash.

NATO officials also reported the deaths of two American
service members Sunday in eastern Afghanistan. One was killed in a bomb attack,
and another died of wounds suffered in an insurgent attack.

Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.