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Civilian Helicopter Crashes in Afghanistan, Six Dead


NATO and Afghan officials say a helicopter carrying civilian contractors has crashed in southern Afghanistan, killing six people.

Officials say the accident occurred early Tuesday in Helmand province, but did not say how the helicopter came down, or who was on board. NATO and Afghan officials say they are investigating.

The former Soviet republic of Moldova released a statements from its aviation agency saying an Mi-26 helicopter was on a humanitarian mission when it was hit by a missile or a rocket. It said the six-member crew is Ukrainian. It is still unclear if it was the same helicopter that crashed.

A Taliban representative has claimed that its fighters shot down an aircraft. The claim has not been verified.

Tuesday's crash comes during a major offensive by 4,000 U.S. Marines, along with British and Afghan troops, aimed at rooting out Taliban insurgents from their traditional strongholds in the area.

In western Farah province, the Italian Defense Ministry says an Italian soldier was killed and three others were wounded in a roadside bomb attack on their convoy.

Also, Afghan officials say a roadside bomb killed three civilians and wounded six others in central Uruzgan province.

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