Afghan general dies in helicopter crash: officials

HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) – An Afghan army helicopter crashed Thursday in the western province of Herat, killing a top Afghan army general and 12 soldiers, officials said.

General Fazl Ahmad Sayar was one of the Afghan army’s key commanders in charge of the western region, the Defense Ministry said in a statement in Kabul.

The statement said the helicopter crashed in bad weather in the Adraskan district of Herat province but the Taliban, who lead the insurgency against the government and foreign forces backing it, said they had shot down the helicopter which they said was flying at low altitude.

Abdul Rashid, the district chief of Adraskan, said a recovery team had been sent to locate the crash site and retrieve the bodies. He said the weather was clear when the craft crashed.

Reuters could not immediately verify any of the accounts but the incident comes amid rain and snow falling in many parts of Afghanistan.

The Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter was flying from Farah province when it crashed in Adraskan, Farah governor Rohul Amin told Reuters by telephone. Afghanistan’s security forces depend largely on old Russian aircraft and there have been a series of crashes in the past.

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