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Iraq: One Dead, 20 Injured In Helicopter Downing

Baghdad, 2 November 2003 (NCA) -- A U.S. military spokesman in Iraq says a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter was shot down today, and that at least one person is dead at some 20 injured. The spokesman said the helicopter was hit by an "unknown weapon" as it approached Baghdad International Airport. The aircraft was carrying more than 30 personnel heading for rest and recreation leave in Baghdad, and was flying in company with a second Chinook.

U.S. military officials have repeatedly warned that hundreds of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles remain unaccounted for in Iraq since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime. Insurgents have fired on U.S. aircraft before, but this is the first known shootdown involving Baghdad airport.

The United States has been warning of an increased risk of attacks in Iraq this weekend. It has cited the possibility of attacks in connection with "rumors" of a day of resistance by anti-U.S. forces.

In a separate incident, a bomb blast in Baghdad killed a U.S. soldier from the 1st Armored Division today. A U.S. Army spokesman said the soldier was evacuated to hospital after the blast in the early hours of today, but died a few hours later.