Members Of SEAL Team 6 Among Those Killed In A Helicopter Crash In Afghanistan

A military helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan, killing 31 U.S. special operation troops, most of them from the elite Navy SEALs unit that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, along with seven Afghan commandos. It was the deadliest single incident for American forces in the decade-long war.

The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with rocket fire while it was taking part in a raid on a house where insurgents were gathered in the province of Wardak late Friday. It said wreckage of the craft was strewn at the scene. A senior U.S. administration official in Washington said the craft was apparently shot down by insurgents. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the crash is still being investigated.

NATO confirmed the overnight crash took place and that there "was enemy activity in the area." But it said it was still investigating the cause and conducting a recovery operation at the site. It did not release details or casualty figures.

"We are in the process of accessing the facts," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a NATO spokesman.

One current and one former U.S. official said that the dead included more than 20 Navy SEALs from SEAL Team Six, the unit that carried out the raid in Pakistan in May that killed bin Laden. They were being flown by a crew of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because families are still being notified.

None of those killed in the crash is believed to have been part of the SEALs mission that killed bin Laden, but they were from the same unit as the bin Laden team.

President Barack Obama mourned the deaths of the American troops, saying in a statement that the crash serves as a reminder of the "extraordinary sacrifices" being made by the U.S. military and its families. He said he also mourned "the Afghans who died alongside our troops."

The death toll would surpass the worst single day loss of life for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001 - the June 28, 2005 downing of a military helicopter in eastern Kunar province. In that incident, 16 Navy SEALs and Army special operations troops were killed when their craft was shot down while on a mission to rescue four SEALs under attack by the Taliban. Three of the SEALs being rescued were also killed and the fourth wounded. It was the highest one-day death toll for the Navy Special Warfare personnel since World War II.

With its steep mountain ranges, providing shelter for militants armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, eastern Afghanistan is hazardous terrain for military aircraft. Large, slow-moving air transport carriers like the CH-47 Chinook are particularly vulnerable, often forced to ease their way through sheer valleys where insurgents can achieve more level lines of fire from mountainsides.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday gave the first public word of the new crash, saying in a statement that "a NATO helicopter crashed last night in Wardak province" and that 31 American special operations troops were killed. He expressed his condolences to President Barack Obama.

The helicopter was a twin-rotor Chinook, said an official at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was receiving his information from an Afghan officer in Kabul.

The crash took place in the Sayd Abad district of Wardak province, said a provincial government spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid. The volatile region borders the province of Kabul where the Afghan capital is located and is known for its strong Taliban presence.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement that Taliban fighters downed the helicopter during a "heavy raid" in Sayd Abad. He said NATO attacked a house in Sayd Abad where insurgent fighters were gathering Friday night. During the battle, the fighters shot down the helicopter, killing 31 Americans and seven Afghans, he said, adding that eight insurgents were killed in the fight.

There have been at least 17 coalition and Afghan aircraft crashes in Afghanistan this year.

Most of the crashes were attributed to pilot errors, weather conditions or mechanical failures. However, the coalition has confirmed that at least one CH-47F Chinook helicopter was hit by a rocket propelled grenade on July 25. Two coalition crew members were injured in that attack.

Meanwhile, in the southern Helmand province, an Afghan government official said Saturday that NATO troops attacked a house and inadvertently killed eight members of a family, including women and children.

NATO said that Taliban fighters fired rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire at coalition troops during a patrol Friday in the Nad Ali district.

"Coalition forces responded with small arms fire and as the incident continued, an air strike was employed against the insurgent position," said Brockhoff. He added that NATO sent a delegation to meet with local leaders and investigate the incident.

Nad Ali district police chief Shadi Khan said civilians died in the bombardment but that it was unknown how many insurgents were killed.

Helmand, a Taliban stronghold, is the deadliest province in Afghanistan for international troops.

NATO has come under harsh criticism in the past for accidentally killing civilians during operations against suspected insurgents. However, civilian death tallies by the United Nations show the insurgency is responsible for most war casualties involving noncombatants.

In south Afghanistan, NATO said two coalition service member were killed, one on Friday and another on Saturday. The international alliance did not release further details.

With the casualties from the helicopter crash, the deaths bring to 365 the number of coalition troops killed this year in Afghanistan and 42 this month.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by fed up Location: aurora on Aug 7, 2011 at 12:11 PM
    thank you media for telling the world who killed bin-laden. these mens death now should rest on your shoulders for exposing them to the world after they did what they were told to do.
  • by NC Resident Location: NC on Aug 7, 2011 at 02:44 AM
    First of all my sympathy to the famlies. This is a terrible loss. But in all my years in the military, it seems to me at least; you don't take a slow flying aircraft loaded like a bus into a firefight. It makes totally no sense to me. I just wish we could get everybody out of that god forsaken place and back home. What a massive loss to our country. Not only in our human lives but our national treasury, which is also depleated thanks to the politicians. Its a sad day in America.
  • by Fact Stater Location: Morehead City on Aug 6, 2011 at 11:06 PM
    At this point it is irrelevant as to who started the war...we can't change that... it has happened! The important subject is who is gonna stop the war.... by whatever means possible... and bring our troops home!
  • by Alfred Location: NC on Aug 6, 2011 at 10:30 PM
    Looks like Obama did not end G W Bush's wars? Like he promised the American People to vote & elect him. It looks like Obama lied. How sad bring the troops home let them fight their own civil wars
  • by Concerned Citizen on Aug 6, 2011 at 09:42 PM
    Perhaps Obama should be sent over to Afghanistan and stand next to the men and women being killed for no reason at all. What a disappointment! Does this type of incompetence meet impeachment regulation and enforcement rules?
  • by T Maxx Location: G-vegas on Aug 6, 2011 at 09:15 PM
  • by Kane on Aug 6, 2011 at 07:49 PM
    This was no coincidence. These men were killed in retaliation for Bin Laden. Our response need to be swift and sharp.
  • by jerry Location: enc on Aug 6, 2011 at 07:18 PM
    To the incompetent idiots in d.c., bring our people home! If you lying politicians want to protect our "freedom", bring them home and wait for an invasion of camels! You make me sick, and I hope if we are invaded, you are the first to be a victim. How many of your children are in the line of fire??
    • reply
      by Frank Sinatra on Aug 6, 2011 at 08:07 PM in reply to jerry
      The invasion happened already except it was poppy plants not camels. You should get used to it cause we will have troops there for your lifetime plus.
  • by Delta929 on Aug 6, 2011 at 06:56 PM
    I don't know what to say but an EXTREME COUNTER ATTACK is in ORDER.
  • by me Location: nc on Aug 6, 2011 at 05:38 PM
    Is this coincidental that the men killed are some of the ones that killed Osama bin Laden? I find it very weird...or is this a cover up to protect the families of the soldiers responsible for his death....the world may never know..

275 E. Arlington Blvd. Greenville, NC 27858 252-439-7777
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 127060963 -
Gray Television, Inc.