Local News

Copter Dropped Paratroopers Before Crashing in Afghanistan

Posted May 31, 2007 5:50 p.m. EDT

— Fort Bragg officials were awaiting word Thursday as to whether any 82nd Airborne Division personnel were among the five American soldiers killed when a NATO helicopter crashed in Afghanistan late Wednesday.

Military officials said 30 to 40 82nd Airborne paratroopers streamed out of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter shortly before it crashed . Five Americans, a Briton and a Canadian were killed.

The helicopter went down in the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, which the Army deems as hostile since it is controlled by members of the Taliban.

NATO officials said it appeared that the helicopter had been shot down, but Army officials said the cause of the crash remains under investigation.

The Chinook's plunge came on the first day of a new joint NATO-Afghan operation to force Taliban fighters out of the northern part of Helmand province.

Troops who went to the crash site were ambushed by enemy fighters, and the unit called in an air strike to help secure the area, according to NATO. "A large number of insurgents" were killed in the strike, the Army said.