Reuters International

KABUL (Reuters) - An Afghan air force helicopter crashed in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least seven people on board, said Afghan Defence Ministry officials who described the crash as an accident.

Four crew members and three soldiers were among the those killed in the crash of the Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter, said Defence Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri.

"An Afghan army helicopter crashed in northern Baghlan province due to some technical problem," he said. "An investigation is under way."

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid however claimed the Islamist group's fighters had shot down the helicopter, saying the aircraft had been trying to resupply an Afghan government checkpoint that was surrounded by insurgents.

The Taliban often exaggerate claims about attacks on Afghan government targets, as well as against the NATO-led coalition assisting Afghan forces.

More than 100 soldiers have been besieged for almost a week in the west of Baghlan province while reinforcements try to open the roads and provide support, said Jawid Basharat, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Paul Tait)


 Reuters International