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Copter crash kills 9 in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — A helicopter carrying international troops crashed in a rugged section of southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing nine service members in the deadliest such incident in four years for coalition forces.

A "large number" of Americans were among the dead, according to a senior military official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

One other coalition service member, an Afghan National Army soldier and a U.S. civilian were injured.

The coalition would not disclose the helicopter's mission, and the cause of the crash was not immediately clear. NATO said there were no reports of enemy fire in the early morning hours in the Daychopan district of Zabul province, where the crash took place.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told the Associated Press by telephone that insurgents shot down the helicopter. The Taliban sometimes take credit for accidents.

"The Taliban are not involved in this crash at all," said Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, a spokesman for the provincial governor in Zabul.

Another coalition service member died following a separate explosion in southern Afghanistan, the coalition said. No further details were available.

So far this year, at least 524 U.S. and NATO forces have been killed in Afghanistan, surpassing the 504 killed last year.

"I was sitting taking my tea," said Nakeemullah, 20, who transports livestock in the area. "I heard noise and I went outside to see what happened.

"I saw a lot of smoke in the sky. It was far away for me, but I could see that it was a helicopter and it went down on the backside of the mountain where I couldn't see."

Aircraft are used extensively in Afghanistan to transport and supply troops because the terrain is mountainous and roads are few and primitive.

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