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14 July 2009 

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Afghan Helicopter Crash Kills 7

14 July 2009

NATO and Afghan officials say a helicopter carrying civilian contractors crashed Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, killing all six people on board and a child on the ground.

Afghan officials say the aircraft may have been shot down, but NATO commanders say it is not clear what happened and that the cause of the crash is under investigation.

Shortly after the crash, Moldova's aviation agency said an Mi-26 helicopter on a humanitarian mission in the area was hit by a missile or a rocket, and that the crew was Ukrainian.  It is unclear, however, whether it is the same helicopter that crashed.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for shooting down the aircraft in Sangin district.

The crash came as 4,000 U.S. Marines and British and Afghan troops continue their anti-Taliban offensive in Helmand, aimed at flushing out insurgents from their traditional strongholds.

Meanwhile in Britain, thousands of people paid their respects to eight British soldiers killed in southern Afghanistan last week.

Crowds lined the streets of a small town of Wootton Bassett in southern England Tuesday, while friends and relatives of the fallen soldiers tossed flowers on the coffins draped in British flags.

In violence Tuesday, the Italian Defense Ministry said one of its soldiers was killed and three others were wounded by a roadside bomb in western Farah province.

In central Uruzgan province, another roadside bomb killed three Afghan civilians and wounded six others.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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