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British helicopter destroyed in Afghanistan: MoD

world Updated: Aug 20, 2009 18:02 IST

The crew of a British military helicopter in Afghanistan escaped without injury but their aircraft was destroyed after a possible Taliban attack, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Thursday.

The Chinook helicopter made an emergency landing after an “engine fire” in the violence-torn southern Helmand province late yesterday, it said, while acknowledging the incident could have been due to enemy action.

“A British helicopter crew have escaped without injury after their Chinook was forced to make an emergency landing late last night following an engine fire,” said an MoD statement.

“The crew managed to evacuate the aircraft safely and were immediately extracted by another Chinook,” it added.

And it said: “The helicopter was later deliberately destroyed by a coalition airstrike to deny it from enemy forces. The cause of the incident is still under investigation, however enemy action has not been ruled out.”

The incident happened on the eve of presidential elections today clouded by a surge of violence in the country, eight years after the Taliban were ousted following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Britain has reportedly struggled to get enough helicopters to support operations in Afghanistan, where the troop death toll has spiked in the run-up to the election, passing the symbolic 200 mark only days ago.