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Chopper Crash Kills 4 Americans; Land Mine Kills 18 Afghans

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2003 – All four crewmembers of an Army MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter died following a crash in Afghanistan Jan. 30.

The crew was participating in routine training at a range 12 kilometers east of Bagram Air Base. The Army is withholding the names of the dead pending notification of next of kin. No other U.S. personnel were injured.

U.S. officials said there is no indication of hostile fire in the accident. The crash occurred at around 10 a.m. Eastern Time. Army officials said the crash is under investigation.

At least 18 people died when a landmine exploded under a bus taking villagers to go shopping in Kandahar, according to news reports. Afghan officials said the attack was the work of Taliban or al Qaeda fighters. Other news reports said local officials blamed remnants of the Taliban and forces loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a fundamentalist former prime minister. Last year, fliers distributed in refugee camps in Pakistan said that Hekmatyar had joined forces with al Qaeda.

U.S. officials in Afghanistan said that military operations near the village of Spin Boldak continue. Officials reported that one U.S. soldier was injured clearing a cave, but no further details were available. All told, 82nd Airborne Division troopers cleared a further 10 caves in the area. Officials said the soldiers are less than halfway through clearing the area.

There are about 9,000 American service members in Afghanistan.

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