News / Asia

Taliban Militants Who Shot Down US Helicopter Killed in Airstrike

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says an airstrike has killed the militants responsible for last week's helicopter crash that killed 38 Americans and Afghans.

Insurgents shot down the Chinook helicopter in the central Afghan province of Wardak on Saturday.

Brian Bill of Stamford, Conn., who was among the SEALs killed in Afghanistan.
Brian Bill of Stamford, Conn., who was among the SEALs killed in Afghanistan.
Thirty American troops, including members of the elite Navy SEALS, were killed along with seven Afghan soldiers and an Afghan interpreter.  It was the worst loss of life for the United States in a single incident during the decade-long war in Afghanistan.

General John Allen told reporters at the Pentagon via videoconference Wednesday that a coalition air raid killed the Taliban insurgents responsible for bringing down the helicopter in Wardak.

In a separate statement, NATO said the precision airstrike Tuesday killed Taliban leader Mullah Mohibullah and the insurgent who "fired the shot associated with" the downing of the CH-47 helicopter in the Tangi Valley.  

The coalition said special operations forces tracked down Mohibullah and the shooter after receiving information from local citizens.  The two men were attempting to flee the country to avoid capture.

The Chinook helicopter had been sent into the Tangi Valley on Saturday as part of an operation targeting a Taliban leader.  

NATO said Wednesday that while it has not been determined if enemy fire was the "sole reason" for the helicopter crash, the aircraft did take fire from several insurgent locations on its approach.

During Wednesday's briefing, General Allen also reaffirmed that a probe was underway. He noted that while a rocket-propelled grenade was at least partly to blame for the crash, small arms fire may have also played a role.

The American commander also defended the decision to send in the elite team to pursue insurgents who were "escaping" from an ongoing operation targeting an important Taliban leader.

General Allen said that the Taliban leader targeted in the operation has not yet been killed or captured by coalition or Afghan forces.

The head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan also said the killing of those responsible for the helicopter crash does not "ease our loss" and vowed that troops will continue to relentlessly pursue "the enemy."

President Obama steps off of Marine One at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 9, 2011.
President Obama steps off of Marine One at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 9, 2011.
U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to Dover Air Force Base in the eastern state of Delaware on Tuesday to pay his respects as the remains of the fallen soldiers, including nearly two dozen elite Navy SEALS, were brought home on two military cargo planes.

The White House says President Obama later met with some 250 family and friends of the fallen soldiers who had gathered at the base, and expressed his condolences and gratitude for the troops' sacrifice.

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

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