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TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese army Apache attack helicopter crashed in western Japan on Monday sparking a fire in a residential area, Japan's defence minister said.

Live images aired by public broadcaster NHK showed firefighters dousing a house as smoke billowed from its roof and windows.

The Ground Self Defence Force helicopter, which is built by Boeing Co, came down in Saga prefecture during training, Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera said in comments aired by NHK. Officials at the scene were assessing injuries.

The crash, several hundred metres (yards) from an elementary school, comes as public attention is focused on incidents involving military helicopters following a series of emergency landings and parts falling from aircraft operated by the U.S. Marines in the island of Okinawa.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Neil Fullick)

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