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Afghanistan helicopter crash kills 2 US troops

KABUL — A NATO helicopter crashed Tuesday in Afghanistan, killing two American service members.

The deaths raised to nine the number of Americans, including three civilians, killed in Afghanistan so far this month.

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The US-led International Security Assistance Force said the cause of the crash is under investigation but initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time.

It did not immediately identify the nationalities of those killed. But a senior US official confirmed they were Americans. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information ahead of a formal announcement.

A local official, Mir Baz Khan, said the helicopter crashed in an agricultural field in the Pachir Wagam district in Nangarhar Province.

Shir Azam, a teacher who lives near the site, said he heard a loud explosion, then saw the helicopter in flames as it plunged to the ground.

Then, he said, more helicopters came and American troops sealed off the site. He also said he heard nothing to indicate any shooting before the crash.

Americans and other foreign troops rely heavily on helicopters and other aircraft for transportation and to avoid roadside bombs and other dangers on the ground in the mountainous country.

The deaths raised to at least 25 the number of American troops killed this year, according to an Associated Press tally.

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