KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 6 (UPI) — An Afghan air force helicopter escorting a government delegation crashed Thursday morning, killing at least 17 people on board.
Governor of southern Zabul province Anwar Ishaqzai said the crash was due to technical problems with the aircraft, dismissing the Taliban’s claim of responsibility. The area is known for Taliban attacks.
The aircraft went down about 10:30 a.m. in the Zabul province. Authorities said the helicopter had been escorting a government delegation surveying security in the area. It crashed in a mountainous area near the Shinki district on its way to Naw Bahar district. Of the dead, 12 were Afghan soldiers and five were crew members. The aircraft with the government officials landed safely and no one was hurt.
“The pilot of the second helicopter told me that the pilot of the crashed helicopter had told him about emergency landing due to a technical fault, but the helicopter crashed down within few minutes,” an official said.
Last week, Taliban leaders learned their esteemed leader and founder, Mullah Omar, had been dead for two years, causing chaos among the militants. Some have rejected the new Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.