Six US marines have been killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, the NATO military command in Kabul told NBC News today, in the worst accident since 30 soldiers died last August in the east of the country.
The crash occurred on Thursday in Helmand province, where the marines maintain a substantial presence. There were no signs of insurgent activity at the time of the accident, said officials, who added that “the cause of the crash is under investigation,” according to Reuters.
Officials have declined to provide any details of the crash until the families of those killed have been informed.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has not officially disclosed the nationalities of those on board, but a senior Pentagon official informed the Associated Press news agency that the troops were US marines.
The accident comes five months after 30 soldiers, including 22 elite navy SEAL commandos, died when their Chinook helicopter crashed in a district of Wardak province, west of Kabul.
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It has been a bloody two days for international forces in Afghanistan. Today France announced that it is suspending its training operations in the country, and threatened to pull its forces early after an Afghan solider opened fire on unarmed French troops in the north of the country, killing four and wounding more than a dozen others.
The deaths brought the total number of French personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 82.
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On Thursday, at least seven civilians were killed when a suicide attacker, driving a car, detonated explosives close to a gate at the perimeter of an airport used by international forces in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. It was the second suicide bombing in as many days in southern Afghanistan, officials said, according to CBS News.