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Fighting Continues At Copter Crash Site In Afghanistan

Kabul, 29 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Battles between U.S. forces and Taliban fighters continue in eastern Afghanistan, near the site of a crashed U.S. military helicopter, preventing efforts to reach the scene.

U.S. military spokesman Colonel James Yonts told reporters in Kabul that the fate of the 17 servicemen who were on board the Chinook helicopter when it crashed Tuesday remains unknown. Yonts said initial reports indicate the helicopter was probably brought down by gunfire.

It was approaching its planned landing site when it came under Taliban attack in mountainous terrain in the eastern Kunar Province.

Marine General Peter Pace told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington today that initial indications were the helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.

News agencies say that a telephone caller identifying himself as Mullah Latif Hakimi, a Taliban spokesman, contacted journalists and claimed credit for downing the craft.

(Radio Free Afghanistan/Reuters/AFP)