KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A military helicopter crashed during
an early morning operation in southern Afghanistan on Monday,
killing three Australian commandoes and an American service member,
The crash was being investigated but there were no indications
of enemy involvement, NATO said in a statement.
The Australian government said three of the dead were
Australians, and U.S. Lt. Col. Joseph T. Breasseale said the fourth
service member killed was American.
Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said seven other
Australian soldiers were wounded, two of them badly.
The crash comes in a particularly deadly month for NATO forces.
Included the most recent deaths, at least 57 international troops,
including 35 Americans, have died so far in June. That could make
June among the deadliest for international forces in the nearly
nine-year war. The deadliest month so far for the military alliance
was July 2009 when 75 troops, including 44 Americans, were killed.
The helicopter crashed before dawn in southern Kandahar
province, and the operation it had been part of was still ongoing,
Other coalition helicopters that were part of the same push
landed near the downed aircraft and airlifted out the wounded, he
said. More details on the operation were not given.
NATO has launched a major operation to secure the biggest
southern city, Kandahar, the provincial capital that was the
Taliban's spiritual birthplace.
There were 15 people aboard the helicopter, 10 of them
Australians, said Australian Defense Minister John Faulkner.
Australia has some 1,500 troops in Afghanistan alongside NATO
forces. Monday's deaths take Australia's military death toll in
Afghanistan to 16.
Australia's 1,550 troops in Afghanistan are based mainly in
Uruzgan province, and are mostly involved in training Afghan