British Military Helicopter Shot Down in Iraq

Reuters new agency reports that a British military helicopter that crashed in the Iraqi city of Basra on Saturday was hit by a missile.

In a statement to the press, a military spokeswoman confirmed the loss but was unable to give exact casualties.

However, later reports quoted Iraqi firemen as saying they had seen four bodies at the scene of the crash.

Iraqi Police Captain Mushtaq Khazim said the helicopter crashed into a house in the centre of Basra.

At the time of writing it is unknown whether these casualties were occupants of the house or aboard the helicopter when it was shot down.

British forces backed by armoured vehicles rushed to the scene of the downed helicopter but were met by a hail of stones from the crowd of Iraqis, who raised their fists as a trail of black smoke rose from the crash site.

The crowd set three British armoured vehicles ablaze, apparently with petrol bombs and a rocket-propelled grenade, but the soldiers inside escaped unhurt, witnesses said.

The British helicopter’s loss comes as a coalition military transport helicopter reportedly crashed in Afghanistan.

A U.S. military spokeswoman confirmed on Saturday that the helicopter had crashed while conducting combat operations in the remote mountains of eastern Afghanistan, killing all 10 American soldiers on board.

According to the spokeswoman the helicopter’s crash was not the result of hostile fire.