Three Australian Army special operations soldiers have been killed and two have been seriously injured following the crash of a coalition helicopter in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan.
The as-yet unidentified helicopter was carrying 15 soldiers and crew and was one of several heading out on an operation at about 3.30am local time on June 21 when it went down. The accompanying helicopters were able to immediately land, secure the area and evacuate and render assistance to the wounded. Chief of Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said the aircraft was not lost as a result of enemy action.
“Our nation today lost three courageous soldiers,” Defence Minister Senator John Faulkner said in a statement. “On behalf of all the men and women of the ADF I extend my sympathies to the families of these three fine commandos we lost this morning. This is a tragic day for Australia.”
UPDATE – Tuesday 22 June: Defence reports that a total of seven other Australian soldiers were injured in the crash, two of whom remain in a “very serious condition” in intensive care. The pilot of the helicopter, thought to be a US Army Black Hawk, was also killed in the crash, while three crewmen and a civilian interpreter were also injured.