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U.S. Officials Say All 17 Aboard Helicopter Believed Dead --> A Chinook helicopter (courtesy photo) 30 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. military officials say they fear all 17 soldiers who were aboard an American helicopter that crashed in Afghanistan may have died.

No deaths in the incident have yet been confirmed, but AP reports that there have been no reports of communications from those who were aboard the Chinook aircraft.

Officials said it appears the twin-rotor helicopter, which crashed on 28 June in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border, went down after being hit by ground fire, possibly by a rocket-propelled grenade. The helicopter was on a mission to deliver troops to a counterterrorism operation.

Spokesmen for the Taliban have claimed that militants shot the helicopter down.

Officials on 29 June said rescuers were still struggling to reach the crash site in the remote mountainous region. Fighting between U.S.-led forces and militants was reported continuing in the area, with U.S. warplanes patrolling the zone.