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5 Americans killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

By Masoud Popalzai, CNN
March 12, 2013 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A U.S. official says those killed were Americans
  • Crash happens in southern Afghanistan on Monday
  • Military says there was no enemy activity in the area
  • There have been 18 coalition deaths in 2013

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Five U.S. service members were killed when a helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan, a U.S. official said early Tuesday.

The chopper went down Monday in the Daman district of southern Kandahar during a rain storm, said Jawid Faisal, a government spokesman for the province.

There was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the incident, according to a statement by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The U.S. official, who did not want to be identified, did not offer additional information about the victims.

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It was the first coalition helicopter crash with fatalities since September, when two separate crashes killed a total of 11 coalition service members.

One occurred in early September, killing two; the other in the third week, killing seven service members and injuring two more.

There were no reports of enemy fire in either of those incidents.

There have been 18 coalition deaths in 2013, including two U.S. service members who were killed Monday by an assailant wearing an Afghan National Security Forces uniform.

The deaths come just after newly installed U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Afghanistan on his first overseas trip since his confirmation and as coalition members draw down their forces in the nation where war has been ongoing since 2001.

In August 2011, a helicopter went down killing at least 30 U.S. service members, the single deadliest loss for U.S. troops in the Afghan war. Insurgents shot down the CH-47 Chinook, which was carrying 25 U.S. special operations forces.

Some the those who died belonged to the same covert unit that conducted the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, though they were not the same men, a military official said at the time.

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CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report; Ben Brumfield wrote in Atlanta

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