17 Spanish troops killed in Afghanistan chopper crash
KABUL: A helicopter belonging to the NATO-led international security force in Afghanistan crashed in the west of the country Tuesday, killing 17 Spanish troops, officials said.
A second helicopter also made an emergency landing and an unspecified number of troops on board that one were believed to be injured, said Maj Andrew Elmes, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul.
He said the cause of the crash and the emergency landing – both in the desert south of the western city of Herat – were believed to be mechanical failure. He did not elaborate. However, Afghan army commander Abdul Wahab Walizada, whose troops are providing security in the area, said the two choppers came too close while flying and the rotor blade of one hit the other. In Madrid, a Spanish Defence Ministry official who asked not to be named said 12 soldiers and five crew died in the accident, but that the cause was unknown.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero broke off his vacation in the Canary Islands to return to Madrid and meet with Defence Ministry officials, his office said. In the Netherlands, a Dutch Air Force official said 13 were dead, five were injured, one was missing and that the helicopter was Spanish. He said rescuers were on the site. “We do not think the helicopter crashed because of enemy activity. ” he said. ap