A coalition helicopter crashed in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday, killing five and injuring five more in the latest mass casualty event in the country in recent weeks.
There was no indication if the victims, or the helicopter, were American, according to a statement from Resolute Support, the NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan that includes American forces. The crash happened at 4:15 p.m. local time at Camp Resolute Support and was the result of a “non-hostile” mishap, according to the statement.
An Afghan security guard who witnessed Sunday’s crash told the Associated Press the helicopter appeared to strike a monitoring balloon as it was landing. “It seemed like the cable was turned around the helicopter rotor,” the security guard, Najibullah, said. Like many in Afghanistan, he goes by one name. He said the helicopter went down and then black smoke rose from the area.
A second helicopter circled around the area three or four times and then landed at a nearby airport, he said.
U.S. Army Col. Brian Tribus, the spokesman in Afghanistan for U.S. and NATO forces, said an “incident” involving a NATO aircraft and an observational balloon had taken place “in the vicinity of the Resolute Support base” in central Kabul, according to the Military Times. The monitoring balloon was severed from its mooring in the incident, he said, without providing further details.
The British defense ministry issued a statement Sunday saying two of members of its Royal Air Force died in a helicopter crash in Kabul. The statement said the helicopter was a Puma Mk 2 operated by its forces.
The crash is under investigation.
The deaths mark another tragic turn in a region that’s become increasingly dangerous for the few foreign forces that remain there.
A suicide bomber targeted a convoy of foreign troops attached to the Resolute Support mission in Kabul on Sunday, according to The Associated Press. There were no reports of casualties, but three Afghans were wounded in the attack, according to Kabul city police chief Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahimi.