U.S.-led force helicopter shot down in Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) – A helicopter belonging to U.S.-led coalition troops was shot down by small-arms fire south of the Afghan capital on Wednesday, but there were no serious injuries to the people on board, the U.S. military said.

The pilots landed the aircraft safely and evacuated all personnel before it caught fire in the Kharwar district of Logar province.

“There were no serious injuries to the crew or passengers,” the military said in a statement.

It did not give further details of the incident in Logar where Taliban militants are known to be active.

It was the second coalition helicopter to be shot down in a week. Another helicopter was shot down in northeastern province of Kunar, but there were no injuries caused.

The Taliban have brought down a number of aircraft, but so far the militants are not thought to have obtained surface-to-air missiles which could alter the balance of the war dramatically.

Many historians believe it was the Afghan mujahideen’s acquisitions of such missiles that tipped the war against the Soviet occupation in their favour in the 1980s.

International troops rely heavily on aircraft to transport troops and supplies around the rugged mountainous country.

Afghanistan has seen another rise in violence this year, despite the increased presence of foreign troops, now numbering more than 70,000.

The austere Islamist Taliban have vowed to step up their campaign of guerrilla, suicide and roadside bomb attacks this year in order to undermine Afghan support for the government in Kabul and pressure foreign troops into pulling out.

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