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Afghan Army Helicopter Crash Kills 17

A U.S. Air Force soldier gives explanations to a group of Afghan translators for the Afghan National Army Air Corps on the Russian Mi-17 transport helicopter at a hangar in Kandahar air base in October 2009.

At least 17 people have been killed in a military helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan.

A police official at the site of the crash in Zabul Province said 12 Afghan soldiers and five crew members died in the August 6 incident, which happened in the Shinkay district.

It was reportedly the worst such accident suffered by Afghanistan's military forces since the U.S.-led NATO combat mission ended in December.

A police official told AFP the crash was caused by a technical failure.

An army commander said an official delegation was sent to the site to investigate the crash.

The Afghan Air Force has more than 80 Mi-17 transport helicopters, the same type involved in the latest crash.

International Crisis Group senior analyst Graeme Smith told AFP that "maintenance is a serious issue for the Afghan Air Force and it is hurting their ability to provide air support to ground forces."

With reporting by AFP
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