Taliban insurgents were responsible for the downing of a Canadian Chinook helicopter in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, the Canadian military confirmed Saturday.
The helicopter was brought down by small arms fire from insurgents, the military said at a briefing at the Kandahar base.
The small arms fire "caused a fire in the fuel line below the helicopter, forcing it come down," said the CBC's Cameron MacIntosh, who attended the briefing.
"When it landed, it burst into flames and the helicopter basically burned to the ground," he said.
Investigators went through the wreckage and found evidence that the chopper had been hit by small arms fire.
A senior military officer described it as "an extremely lucky shot," MacIntosh said.
The chopper made what military officials called a "hard landing" two days ago in Kandahar province's Panjwaii District, a volatile area under the command of Canadian Forces.
Chopper crew praised
Eight Canadian soldiers suffered minor injuries. The chopper was carrying a crew of five, along with 16 passengers.
"Although a helicopter has been lost, this incident highlights the skills of Canadian aircrews deployed in Afghanistan," said Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance, commander of Task Force Kandahar.
"The fact that no one was seriously harmed during the emergency landing speaks to the ability of our aircrews to perform under pressure, which they did in a textbook fashion," he said.
A Taliban spokesman told The Associated Press on Thursday that the helicopter was shot down with a rocket.
A Canadian Chinook helicopter was forced to make what military officials called a "hard landing" in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, but none of the 20 onboard was seriously injured.
The craft went down in Kandahar province's Panjwaii District, a volatile area under the command of Canadian Forces.
A Canadian Chinook helicopter, like this one pictured in early July, made a hard landing about 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city on Thursday. A Canadian Chinook helicopter, like this one pictured in early July, made a hard landing about 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city on Thursday. (Bill Graveland/The Canadian Press)
"About 2 p.m. [local time] a Canadian Forces CH147 Chinook helicopter had a hard landing about 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city. "There were minor injuries," said Maj. Daryl Morrell, senior public affairs officer for Task Force Kandahar.
"What we're doing right now is we're looking into causes. So this will be investigated and we'll get more details. Right now all that we know is it was a hard landing. We want to confirm and that's what we're doing now."
The site of the landing was immediately secured by Afghan National Police and NATO forces.
Morrell said 20 people were on the Chinook â€” including five crew members. Eight people sustained minor injuries.
Hostile fire has not been ruled out, a NATO forces spokesman said.
A Taliban spokesman responsible for the south, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, told The Associated Press by telephone the helicopter was shot down with a rocket.
A Canadian helicopter previously crashed in Afghanistan in July 2009.
Master Cpl. Pat Audet, 38, of Montreal, and Cpl. Martin Joannette, 25, of St-Calixte, Que., died in Zabul province when their Griffon CH-146 helicopter crashed on takeoff. Three other Canadian Forces members were injured, one of them seriously. A British officer was also killed in the crash.
The crash was believed to have occurred when the helicopter clipped a security wall while trying to manoeuvre in a blinding cloud of dust.
Car bomber kills 7
Meanwhile, a suicide car bomber struck a convoy of NATO troops and Afghan police Thursday in northern Afghanistan, killing seven police officers and wounding at least 11 people.
The suicide bombing occurred in the morning in Kunduz province's Imam Sahib district, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. In addition to the deaths, six police and five civilians were wounded, it said.
No NATO troops were killed in the bombing, said Maj. Michael Johnson, a NATO forces spokesman. He said some NATO forces were wounded, but declined to say how many or how seriously.
The vehicles were stopped in preparation for an operation in the area and the killed police officers had been standing outside their trucks as they mobilized, said Abdul Rahman Aqtash, deputy police chief of Kunduz province.
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