Bodies of 30 helicopter crash troops back in US
The remains of the US special operations troops killed when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan arrived yesterday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, according to a US defence department spokesman.
The 30 dead included 22 US Navy SEAL commandos, most from the elite unit once known as SEAL Team Six that carried out the May raid that killed al-Qa'ida leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, two US officials said on condition of anonymity.
None of those killed were involved in the Bin Laden raid, they said.
The Afghanistan helicopter crash was the biggest loss of US troops in a single engagement since the start of the war in October 2001. Seven Afghan commandos and a civilian interpreter were also killed.
The bodies will be identified at the military mortuary at Dover, according to a Pentagon statement yesterday.
NATO said the helicopter carrying the special operations troops was destroyed as it was flying into a firefight that had targeted a Taliban leader.
NATO suspects that the CH-47 was downed by an unguided rocket-propelled grenade, not a more advanced heat-seeking shoulder-fired missile that might have indicated a new level of Taliban capability, officials said yesterday.