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Civilian Helicopter Crashes in Afghanistan, 16 Killed

A civilian helicopter has crashed in Afghanistan, killing 16 people and injuring five others. The crash occurred as U.S. military officials condemned the Taliban's release of a video showing an American soldier captured in Afghanistan.

NATO officials say a Russian-made helicopter came down soon after it took off from the Kandahar air base in southern Afghanistan. But they have ruled out the involvement of insurgents in the incident.

This is the second crash within the past week in Afghanistan, where international forces rely heavily on aircraft for cargo and transport flights. Growing insurgent attacks make it difficult for travel by road.

A Russian MI-26 transport helicopter was reportedly shot down while it was ferrying supplies to a remote British base Tuesday in the southern Helmand Province. Six crew members died on board the aircraft.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the U.S forces in Afghanistan has denounced the release of a video of an American solider being held hostage by Taliban extremists. The use of the soldier for propaganda purposes, he says is against international law.

Both U.S and Afghan officials have confirmed the man in the video is the soldier who went missing in late June from a southeastern part of the country. Reports say the U.S military in Afghanistan has been distributing leaflets this week seeking his release.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul, Afghan Interior Ministery spokesman, Zamary Bashari gave few details about efforts aimed at securing the release of the U.S soldier.

"For the time being I cannot give you further details about where about of that soldier but what I can say is that there was an ongoing work and effort to (secure) release of the soldier," Bashari said. "I cannot talk about it more."

The spokesman would not say whether the soldier is located in Afghanistan or if the militants have shifted him to their hideouts on the Pakistani side of the border.

In the video posted on the internet, the soldier appeared in good health with his head shaven and a slight beard. Answering to questions by his captors in English, the U.S soldier says he is scared he will not be able to go home.

Insurgent attacks have gone up in Afghanistan in recent weeks. A suicide bomb attack on Sunday at the main border crossing with Pakistan in the eastern province of Nangarhar left at least three people dead and several others wounded.