Six U.S. soldiers serving with the NATO International Security Assistance Force were killed when their Sikorsky UH-60 ‘Black Hawk’ helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan Tuesday, officials said.
There was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash, according to NATO, and the U.S. defense official said early reports indicate the helicopter’s engine failed.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, NATO said in a statement, but a senior U.S. defense official said the aircraft had a hard landing due to mechanical problems and was attacked by militants after it went down.
NATO did not disclose the nationalities of the victims but the U.S. official said they were American.
There were no reports of enemy fire in the area the when helicopter went down, the NATO statement added.
According to Reuters, the incident is the largest death toll to hit the international force in months.
Aircraft crashes are not uncommon in Afghanistan.
The worst such incident was in August 2011, when the Taliban shot down a transport helicopter, killing all 38 people on board including 25 U.S. special operations forces, Reuters reported.
The helicopter crashed in the Shahjoi district of the Zabul province, according to its deputy governor Mohammad Jan Rasulyar.