Helicopter crash kills 5 ISAF service members in Afghanistan

KABUL Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:45pm IST

KABUL (Reuters) - Five NATO-led service members were killed when a helicopter crashed due to technical failure in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, the coalition forces and a provincial official said.

"ISAF is still in the process of reviewing the circumstances to determine more facts," the International Security Assistance Force said. It did not provide details of their nationalities.

A spokesman for Kandahar Governor Tooryalai Wesa confirmed the crash occurred near Kandahar City.

"Today at 11 am (0630 GMT) an ISAF helicopter crashed due to technical problems in Takhteh Pol district. As a result five ISAF soldiers were killed," spokesman Dawakhan Minapal said.

Foreign forces casualties have fallen in the past few months, as U.S.-led forces start to wind down operations ahead of a year-end deadline to leave Afghanistan.

The United States has been at odds with President Hamid Karzai who has refused U.S. entreaties to sign a bilateral security agreement that would permit about 8,000 U.S. troops to remain in the country after the formal U.S. withdrawal at the end of the year.

The leading contenders to replace Karzai have, however, said they will sign the agreement to allow the small contingent of U.S. forces to stay in the country for counter-terrrorism and Afghan training purposes.

Since the start of the year, nearly twice as many foreign civilians have been killed in attacks this year compared to foreign troops. At least 24 foreign civilians, including doctors and journalists, have been shot or killed in bomb attacks.

(Reporting by Jeremy Laurence; Editing by Kim Coghill and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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