A Nato helicopter crashed in Afghanistan's east on Monday but there were no apparent casualties, officials said, another stark reminder of the dangers of the war after 38 people were killed in an air incident, the largest single loss for foreign forces in 10 years.
A worrying surge of military deaths is being matched by record casualties among civilians, who continue to bear the brunt of a war that appears to have become bogged down despite claims of success from both sides.
On Monday, three hundred angry Afghans took to the streets in central Ghazni province carrying the bodies of two people they claimed had been killed during a raid by ISAF troops. Civilian casualties caused by foreign troops hunting insurgents have long been a major source of friction between Kabul and its Western backers. UN figures show such casualties hit record levels in the first six months of 2011, although it blamed 80% of them on insurgents.
Nato officials are still investigating the cause of a helicopter crash two days ago that killed 38 people, including 30 US soldiers - some from the Navy's special Forces SEAL Team 6 that killed Osama bin Laden - seven Afghans and an interpreter.
The Taliban claim to have shot down that troop-carrying CH-47 Chinook helicopter in central Maidan Wardak province and a US official in Washington, who asked not to be identified, said that helicopter was believed to have been shot down. "We're still not aware of the cause of the incident, this is a very vital part of the investigation," Brigadier General Carsten Jacobsen, senior spokesman of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), told a news conference.