Afghan officials say a top Afghan army general has been killed in a helicopter crash.

Afghanistan's defense ministry says the Afghan National Army helicopter went down in bad weather in the western province of Herat Thursday, killing General Fazaludin Sayar and 12 others.

The ministry says the general was the top commander for Afghanistan's western region, and he was flying to neighboring Farah province at the time of the crash.

A Taliban spokesman has disputed the defense ministry's version of events, saying the helicopter was flying at a low altitude and that militants shot it down.

The top U.S. commander in Kabul, who also answers to the NATO command, General David McKiernan, Thursday offered condolences on behalf all NATO service members in Afghanistan.

Also Thursday, NATO said an Afghan contractor who worked with the alliance on road construction projects was found murdered, three days after he was kidnapped by insurgents.

NATO said the man was abducted in eastern Afghanistan's Kapisa province on January 6.  His body was found hanging from a tree on January 9.  He had been shot three times.

A NATO spokesman condemned the murder, saying the Afghan man was killed mercilessly as he worked to build his country.

And Britain's defense ministry Thursday said two members of the British military were killed in an explosion northeast of Gereshk, in the southern Afghan province of Helmand on Wednesday.