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Afghan army helicopter crashes in north Afghanistan, 8 dead

Eight Afghan soldiers were killed early on Sunday morning when a military helicopter crashed in northern Baghlan province, officials said.

Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said that five crew members and three army soldiers were killed in the crash. The crash took place in Dand Ghori district while the helicopter was supplying a military base, he said. 

Waziri blamed a technical problem with the aircraft and said he rejected any claims by insurgents to have downed the helicopter. One helicopter was on the ground while a second was patrolling in the air above, when “suddenly a technical problem caused the helicopter to catch fire and hit the ground,” Waziri said.

However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement claiming responsibility for downing the helicopter, saying the aircraft was shot down by fighters.

Two provincial officials in Baghlan also said the helicopter had been shot down by insurgents while it was supplying the military base with food, water and ammunition. Qarghan Tapa base has been surrounded by insurgents for a week, with more than a hundred soldiers trapped inside, according to the officials. 
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