A British helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing five NATO troops in the single deadliest day this year for foreign forces as they prepare to withdraw from the country, officials said.
The British defense ministry confirmed that all five of the dead were British. Maj. Gen. Richard Felton, commander of the Joint Helicopter Command, said the crash appeared to be “a tragic accident.”
In Kabul, an Afghan university official identified two Americans killed by a local policeman at a hospital in the capital earlier this week. The shooting was the latest by a member of Afghanistan’s security forces against those they are supposed to protect.
The cause of the helicopter crash was not immediately known. Kandahar provincial police spokesman Zia Durrani said the aircraft went down in the province’s Takhta Pul district in the southeast, about 31 miles from the Pakistani border.
The coalition said it was investigating the circumstances of the crash but said it had no reports of enemy activity in the area.
Saturday’s crash was one of the deadliest air accidents involving Britain’s forces in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s presidential elections are headed for a runoff after full preliminary results released Saturday showed the front-runners failed to win a majority and avoid a second round of voting.
Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah garnered 44.9 percent of the vote, followed by ex-Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai with 31.5 percent, said election commission chairman Ahmad Yousuf Nouristan. The candidates are vying to replace President Hamid Karzai, the only president Afghans have known since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to topple the Taliban’s hard-line Islamic regime.
“According to our findings, it seems that this election will go to the second round,” Nouristani said. “We have a tentative schedule of June 7th to start the second round.”