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ISAF helicopter down in Taliban country
Sat, 23 Oct 2010 22:20:29 GMT
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Taliban militants carry rocket launchers like this to shoot down NATO and ISAF aircraft.
Taliban militants say they have shot down a helicopter operated by the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in eastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban claimed that they successfully targeted the aircraft on Saturday in remote Paktika province near the border with Pakistan's South Waziristan, the Afghan Islamic Press reported.

However, ISAF dismissed the Taliban's claim, saying the helicopter crashed due to a mechanical failure, but did not announce the exact location of the incident.

A recovery force was immediately sent to the site of the crash and swiftly retrieved the wreckage of the helicopter.

Taliban militants claim to have shot down several NATO helicopters and drone aircraft in different parts of Afghanistan this year.

Paktika has seen a considerable uptick in militant attacks on Afghan and foreign forces over the past few months.

Meanwhile, the rise in civilian casualties in NATO attacks has strained relations between President Hamid Karzai and his Western allies, who are under increasing pressure at home over the unpopular war.

The number of civilians killed in clashes between Taliban militants and Afghan and US-led foreign troops during the first half of 2010 saw an "unprecedented" increase of 31 percent compared with a year ago, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Civilian fatalities in the first six months of the year stood at 3,268, while 1,997 people were wounded.

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