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No answers after deadliest day of year for US in Afghanistan

Helicopter accident under investigation

Hamid Karzai

ASSOCIATED PRESS

“:Do you think you really show America you are strong? No. This is not showing power, this just serves the Americans,” said Hamid Karzai, in a statement accusing the Taliban of giving the United States reason to keep troops in Afghanistan longer.

KABUL — A helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan Monday night that killed five American service members brought the total number of US troops killed that day to seven, making it the deadliest day for US forces so far this year.

Two US special operations forces were gunned down hours earlier in an insider ­attack by an Afghan policeman in eastern Afghanistan.

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The NATO military coalition said in a statement that initial reports showed no enemy activity in the area at the time of the helicopter crash. The cause of the crash is ­under investigation, the statement said.

A US official said all five of the dead were American. The official said the helicopter went down outside Kandahar city. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not been formally released.

All five people aboard the UH-60 Black Hawk were killed, said Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the international military coalition.

At the same time as the crash was being reported, ­Afghan President Hamid Karzai was berating the Taliban for giving the United States a reason to stay longer in the country, by staging the deadly weekend attacks that killed at least 19 Afghans, including eight children.

‘‘Do you think you really show America you are strong? No. This is not showing ­power, this just serves the Americans,’’ Karzai was quoted in the statement released by his press office Tuesday.

‘Do you think you really show America you are strong? No. This is not showing ­power, this just serves the Americans.’

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The Taliban claimed responsibility only for targeting the Defense Ministry in Kabul, not the second attack in the south where the children were killed, but Karzai blamed them for both.

‘‘What the president means is that the attacks, by creating continued instability, give the international community a reason to keep foreign troops here,’’ said presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi, who was reached late Tuesday.

This was a softening from Karzai’s comments Sunday, when he accused the United States and the Taliban of cooperating to stage Saturday’s deadly suicide attacks to scare Afghans into allowing foreign troops to stay in the country.

The top US commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford, rejected his charges of US collusion with the Taliban as ‘‘categorically false,’’ and US ambassador James Cunningham said Monday, ‘‘It is inconceivable that we would spend the lives of America’s sons, daughters . . . in helping Afghans to secure and rebuild your country, and at the same time be engaged in endangering Afghanistan or its citizens.’’

The Americans killed in Monday’s helicopter crash make 12 US troops killed so far this year in Afghanistan. There were 297 US service members killed in Afghanistan in 2012, according to an Associated Press tally.

It was the deadliest crash since August, when a US military helicopter went down during a firefight with insurgents in a remote area of Kandahar. Seven Americans and four Afghans died in that crash.

In March 2012, a helicopter crashed near the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing 12 Turkish soldiers on board and four Afghan civilians on the ground, officials said. And in August 2011, insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter, killing 30 American troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs, in Wardak province in central Afghanistan.

Also Tuesday, a statement from the Interior Ministry said insurgent attacks killed six Afghan civilians.

Four died when the tractor they were on struck a roadside bomb in the southern province of Helmand on Monday.

Then on Tuesday, two women were killed when a mortar fired by insurgents hit their house in the same province.

More details emerged Tuesday about the insider attack in Wardak the day before. According to a spokesman for the Wardak governor, ­Afghan and US forces had just finished a meeting in the district police headquarters and were heading to their vehicles in the compound’s courtyard when the attack took place.

As they came out of the building, a policeman jumped onto the back of a parked police truck, grabbed the mounted heavy machine gun, turned it toward the group, and opened fire, said spokesman Attaullah Khogyani.

The Afghan Defense Ministry, revising its original casualty count, said two soldiers were killed, in addition to the two police officers Khogyani had reported killed on the day of the attack.

The attacker was also killed.

US officials said Monday that in addition to the two special forces soldiers killed, 10 American soldiers — both special operators and regular military — were wounded in the attack.

Three of their Afghan translators were also wounded, according to Khogyani.

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