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A British helicopter in Afghanistan (file photo) (AFP)
September 2, 2006 -- Fourteen British soldiers have died in a helicopter accident at the start of a major new anti-Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan.
A NATO spokesman, Major Scott Lundy, said the aircraft was supporting a NATO mission when it went off the radar and crashed some 20 kilometers west of Kandahar. NATO says the crash was not due to hostile fire.
British television quotes Defense Minister Des Browne as calling the accident "dreadful and shocking."
Earlier in the day, "hundreds" of NATO troops and a similar number of Afghan police and army soldiers had launched a fresh campaign against insurgents in Kandahar Province.
ISAF had urged residents living near several reported Taliban strongholds to leave before the offensive started.
(compiled from agency reports)
A U.S. military vehicle damaged by insurgents near Kandahar (epa)
HOMEGROWN OR IMPORTED? As attacks against Afghan and international forces continue relentlessly, RFE/RL hosted a briefing to discuss the nature of the Afghan insurgency. The discussion featured Marvin Weinbaum, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and RFE/RL Afghanistan analyst Amin Tarzi.
Listen to the entire briefing (about 83 minutes):Real Audio Windows Media
RFE/RL's coverage of Afghanistan
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