A helicopter crash in Afghanistan's eastern Wardak province has killed 30 US special operation troops and seven Afghan soldiers, Hamid Karzai said today. (The US figure was revised from 31.) It was the highest number of casualties recorded in a single incident in the decade-long war. NATO confirmed the overnight crash and said it was conducting a recovery operation at the site and investigating the cause of the crash, but did not release details or a casualty figure. The coalition said there "was enemy activity in the area;" a White House official quietly confirmed that the chopper was shot down, reports the AP.
A spokesman for Wardak province said the helicopter crashed in the Sayd Abad district of Wardak province. The volatile region borders Kabul province, and is known for its strong Taliban presence. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed the downed aircraft was a US military helicopter and that the Taliban fighters had brought it down with a rocket attack. In a statement, Mujahid said that NATO attacked a house in Sayd Abad where insurgent fighters were gathering last night. Mujahid said the Taliban fired on NATO and downed the helicopter, killing all the crew. He said eight insurgents also died. At NATO headquarters in Brussels, an official said it was a twin-rotor Chinook helicopter. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was receiving his information from an Afghan officer in Kabul.