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17 U.S. Soldiers Feared Dead In Afghan Helicopter Crash --> A U.S. Chinook helicopter (courtesy photo) 29 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. military says 17 U.S. soldiers were in a Chinook helicopter carrying troops to battle militants when it crashed in eastern Afghanistan on 28 June, but said their status remains "unknown."

The military today said in a statement that "initial reports" indicate the crash in Kunar Province, near the northeastern border with Pakistan, "may have been caused by hostile fire."

The statement says the helicopter had been "transporting forces into the area as part of Operation Red Wing, which is part of the enduring fight to defeat Al-Qaeda militants and deny them influence in Kunar Province."

Purported spokesmen for the Taliban have claimed responsibility for shooting down the twin-rotor helicopter west of Asadabad, but this has not been confirmed.