A Turkish military helicopter on a NATO mission crashed into a house outside the Afghan capital Kabul today,killing at least 15 people — 12 soldiers on board and three civilians on the ground.
The Turkish military said the Sikorsky helicopter,which was part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan,was on a mission for NATO when it crashed at 10.25 am local time.
“Twelve of our military personnel on board were martyred,” it said in a statement.
ISAF also said that 12 of its “service members died following a helicopter crash in Kabul province today,” but it did not give their nationality.
Police confirmed that the bodies they found at the crash site were of Turkish citizens and Afghan civilians.
The cause of the crash was under investigation. However,initial reporting indicated there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash,the ISAF statement said.
“Police rescue teams are busy with digging the ruined house. So far they found three civilians’ bodies — two children and one woman,” Mohammad Zahir,Chief of criminal Investigation for the Kabul Police Chief Office,said.
In Ankara,Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters it appeared that the helicopter crashed while attempting an emergency landing. He said the pilot tried to avoid houses.
“It is a grave accident,our grief is deep,” he said.
Turkey,which currently has 1,800 soldiers in ISAF in Afghanistan,is NATO’s only Muslim member state. Its troops’ mission is limited to patrols and they do not take part in combat operations.