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Low Visibility Blamed for Helicopter Crash

American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Oct. 28, 2009 – U.S. military authorities have determined that the cause of an MH-47 helicopter crash in Afghanistan’s Badghis province Oct. 26 was a combination of factors caused by very low visibility, officials said today.

The crash killed seven U.S. servicemembers and three U.S. civilians.

The incident occurred about 3:30 a.m. when the helicopter lifted off following a successful operation against militants. Thick dust stirred up from the initial takeoff and overwhelmed the visibility of the helicopter crew. As the crew tried to correct the aircraft's movement, it struck a tall structure, causing it to crash. Militants did not fire at the helicopter at any point during the departure or crash, officials said.

Before the crash, a combined team of Afghan and international forces and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency members was conducting a mission to disrupt arms smuggling and narcotics trafficking in the Darreh-ye Bum Village in the province’s Qadis district. Finances from these illegal activities provide support for the insurgency.

The names of the deceased servicemembers will be released when their families are notified, and investigation of the incident still is ongoing, officials said.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, an Afghan and international security force detained several suspected militants today after two separate compound searches in the Saydabad district of Wardak province.

The first compound is known to be used by a Taliban commander involved in making improvised explosive devices. The second compound is known to be used by a Taliban enabler. Both are believed responsible for several attacks and for supplying IEDs to other militant groups in the region.

In the first search, near the village of Belangash, the combined force detained several militants, one of whom was disguised as a woman and is believed to be the sought-after Taliban commander and bomb-maker. The second search, near Maru village, resulted in the detention of “a couple of militants,” officials said, with one surrendering immediately and identifying himself as the Taliban enabler.

(From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command news release.)

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