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NATO chopper crashes: one dead

KABUL, August 24 – A helicopter crashed while on a mission for the NATO-led force in Afghanistan Sunday, killing one person and wounding three, the force said.

The hard-line Taliban militia, waging an insurgency against the government, claimed it had brought down the chopper in the eastern province of Kunar but this could not be verified.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it believed the crash was caused by a technical error with the casualties likely to be "non-Afghans."

The MI-8 transport aircraft came down shortly after take-off from an ISAF base, the force said in a statement. "One person on board the aircraft died and three were wounded during the incident," it said.

An ISAF media officer told AFP the occupants were "mostly likely non-Afghans."

"I think it was a technical problem," he said on condition of anonymity.

The insurgent Taliban have regularly said they have brought down helicopters but their claims have sometimes proven to be untrue.

However gunfire did bring down a Black Hawk near Kabul in July, although there were no injuries.

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A rocket-propelled grenade hit a Chinook helicopter in Kunar in June 2005, killing 16 US soldiers.

Seven NATO soldiers — all Americans except for a Briton and a Canadian — were killed in May 2007 when a helicopter crashed in Helmand province after apparently being struck by a rocket.

There are nearly 70,000 international soldiers in Afghanistan to help the Western-backed government in its fight against an insurgency led by Taliban who regrouped soon after being driven from government in a US-led invasion in 2001.

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