ISLAMABAD - A military helicopter has crashed in northern Afghanistan, killing all seven people onboard.

A Defense Ministry spokesman, Dawlat Waziri, confirmed the incident, saying three Afghan soldiers and four crew members were among the victims.

He blamed a “technical fault” with the Russian-made Mi17 aircraft for going down in Dand-e-Ghori district of the conflict-gripped Baghlan province while it was transporting supplies to Afghan forces.

But the Taliban claimed its fighters shot down the helicopter, claiming it was heading toward a base in the district where insurgents have besieged around 200 soldiers for more than a week.

Unclear circumstances

It was not possible to determine through independent sources the circumstances that caused the incident because of communication problems and a lack of access.

Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces has been raging in several districts of Baghlan, including areas close to its capital city, Pul-e-Khumri, where the Taliban recently gained control of key outposts.

The insurgents have also been engaged in a week of sporadic clashes with government forces in the capital of neighboring Kunduz province.

Afghan security forces keep watch in front of thei
Afghan security forces keep watch in front of their armoured vehicle in Kunduz city, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2016.

U.N. officials say the fighting in northern Afghan provinces has undermined the flow of traffic to these areas and caused power outages, food shortages and communication disconnections with the rest of the country, as well as uprooting thousands of civilians.