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14 dead as Turkish chopper crashes outside Kabul

March 16, 2012 |  2:52 am

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REPORTING FROM KABUL, Afghanistan -- A Turkish military helicopter crashed Friday in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Kabul, killing 12 Turkish passengers and crew and at least two Afghan civilians on the ground, Afghan and Turkish officials said.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force confirmed that the craft had gone down and that 12 service members had been killed, without specifying their nationality. The Western military said there was no sign of insurgent activity in the area, and that the cause of the crash was under investigation.

Afghan police said the helicopter plummeted onto a house at about 10:30 a.m., and that at least two people inside were killed. The toll could rise as searchers comb through the wreckage, said Mohammad Zaher, head of the criminal investigation department for the Kabul police.

In Afghanistan, Friday is the start of the weekend, and most people spend the day at home and at the mosque for the main prayers of the week.

The NATO force is heavily dependent on helicopters for moving troops and supplies because of Afghanistan’s rugged terrain and poor roads. Ground travel is dangerous in volatile areas because of insurgent-planted roadside bombs.

The Turkish military said the helicopter was a Sikorsky.

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-- Laura King

Photo: A file photograph of two Turkish Sikorsky helicopters during a 2004 military exercise outside Ankara. Credit: EPA/STR

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