An Afghan military helicopter carrying weapons and ammunition burst into flames during an “emergency landing” in western Afghanistan, killing at least four people, including the pilot, officials said Saturday.
The aircraft was flying from Herat to the neighboring Farah province on Friday, September 15 when it experienced “technical problems,” Farah provincial governor spokesman Nasir Mehri told AFP.
The Ministry of Defense said the crash occurred around 8:20 p.m., VOA Dari reported.
Farah police spokesman Mohibullah Mohib confirmed the death toll. The defense ministry said five people were killed.
Defense ministry spokesperson Ghafor Ahmad Jawed said two pilots, two sharpshooters and an engineer died when the helicopter caught fire after an emergency landing, VOA reported.
Provincial council member Dadullah Qane told Pajhwok Afghan News the crash occurred at Ranj village in Khak-i-Safid district.
It is unclear which type of helicopter crashed. The Afghan Air Force has two transport helicopters in its inventory – the Russia-built Mi-17 and the U.S.-made UH-60 Black Hawk, which will eventually replace the Mi-17. However, Black Hawk operations are generally limited to Helmand and Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, as well as training flights near Kabul.
A technical team has been sent to the area to investigate the accident, the defence ministry said in a statement.
But in a WhatsApp message to journalists, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed militants had shot down the “enemy helicopter.”
The Taliban has stepped up attacks on security forces as Afghan and international players ratchet up efforts to convince the group to engage in peace talks to end the 17-year war.
With reporting from AFP