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Three killed in Afghan army helicopter crash, say officials

At least three Afghan security personnel were killed when a military helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan, officials said Thursday, with the Taliban claiming to have shot down the aircraft.

The incident happened on Wednesday evening in the restive province of Helmand as the helicopter made an emergency landing, the Ministry of Defence said.

Two policemen and a soldier were killed in the crash, it said, adding an investigation had been launched. At least four security personnel were also wounded.

Helmand provincial council head Ataullah Afghan told AFP that the helicopter was carrying security personnel from a meeting in the province.

“The helicopter crashed during an emergency landing after facing technical problems,” he said.

The Taliban, however, claimed to have brought it down.

“The helicopter was shot down by our Mujahideen in Washer district of Helmand province,” a spokesman for the group, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said in a statement.

He said the helicopter was shot down when it was bombing insurgent positions.

The defence ministry denied the claim.

Wednesday s incident comes just weeks after nine people were killed when a military helicopter was shot down in central Afghanistan.

The defence ministry initially said that there had been a crash, but President Ashraf Ghani later confirmed it had been shot down.

Helicopter crashes are common in Afghanistan — either due to technical problems or militant attacks.

In October last year, nine members of the Afghan military were killed when two army helicopters collided while transporting wounded soldiers in Helmand.

The Afghan government has been battling a surge in violence across the country blamed on the Taliban, despite peace talks launched between the two sides last year.

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