US copter crashed in Taliban trap: Afghan official
Puli Alam (Afghanistan), Aug 8: The Taliban lured US forces into an elaborate trap to shoot down their helicopter, killing 30 American troops in the deadliest such incident of the war, an Afghan official said today.
A total of 38 people -- 30 US troops, many of them special forces, plus seven Afghan commandos and an interpreter -- were killed when their Chinook came down during an anti-Taliban operation late Friday.
The crash marked the biggest single loss of life for American and NATO forces since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan toppled the Taliban in late 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks.
The senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity that a Taliban commander, Qari Tahir, lured US forces to the scene by tipping them off that a Taliban meeting was taking place.
He also said four Pakistanis helped Tahir carry out the strike.
"Now it's confirmed that the helicopter was shot down and it was a trap that was set by a Taliban commander," said the official, citing intelligence gathered from the area.
"The Taliban knew which route the helicopter would take," he added.
"That's the only route, so they took position on the either side of the valley on mountains and as the helicopter approached, they attacked it with rockets and other modern weapons. It was brought down by multiple shots."
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to discuss the issue, also said President Hamid Karzai's US-backed government "thinks this was a retaliation attack for the killing of Osama bin Laden."
The Taliban themselves did not make such an assertion on claiming responsibility for the attack, which took place in the Taliban-infested Sayd Abad district of Wardak province, just southwest of Kabul.
US media has reported that the dead included members of the Navy's SEAL Team Six, the secretive unit behind the daring raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan in May.
US administration sources interviewed by AFP said the casualties did not include anyone who took part in the bin Laden raid on May 2.
Brigadier General Carsten Jacobsen, spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), told journalists Monday that the crash represented "a tragic loss."
"We're still investigating this incident so we have no picture of what was the cause for the incident and that is what the investigation is basically all about," he said at a press briefing. "The campaign is going to continue, we will continue to relentlessly pursue."
Jacobsen also played down the suggestion that the Taliban had used new types of weapons to down the helicopter.
"We're not seeing any specific new types of weapons on the battlefield," he said.
Another ISAF spokesman declined to comment on claims the crash happened because of a Taliban trap and added that bodies had now been recovered from the site. Afghan officials said an insurgent rocket downed the helicopter, which was said to have broken into several parts after being hit. AFP
Lastupdate on : Mon, 8 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 8 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 9 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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