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Afghanistan: Seven German Soldiers Killed In Crash

Kabul, 21 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Seven German soldiers serving with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan were killed today when their helicopter crashed near Kabul. Kabul police chief Bashir Salangi said two children were also killed at the crash site, but ISAF officials said they had no evidence of casualties on the ground.

Witnesses reported seeing flames coming from the helicopter shortly before it crashed. The cause is under investigation. There were no reports of weapons being fired in the area.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed his "deep sorrow" over the incident, and the Afghan government expressed its condolences to the families of the victims.

The crash came a day after a U.S. soldier was killed in a firefight with enemy forces in eastern Afghanistan. Speaking today at Bagram Air Base, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, said such incidents do not reflect what he termed the improving security situation in Afghanistan.

"We're going to take some casualties, unfortunately. We did have a tragic death last night. But that, I don't think, has anything to do with the situation. The situation continues to get better over here. We're thinking very seriously about moving into what we call 'stability operations' in most of the country, where we'll focus on reconstruction efforts."

Myers was on a one-day visit to Afghanistan.