News Brief – September 2, 2006
An RAF Nimrod has crashed in Afghanistan, killing fourteen British servicemen on board.
Although UK defence Secretary, Des Brown said the crash was a “terrible accident”, a purported Taliban spokesman claimed guerrillas shot the plane down in Kandahar province with a Stinger missile.
The deaths of the fourteen, brings the total number of British service personnel killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of August to twenty-one.
The plane is reported to have crashed near Chalaghor village, in the southern Kandahar province. Abdul Manan, a witness in the village said the plane crashed about 100 yards from his home, and pieces of wreckage landed nearby.
He reported seeing "a small fire at the back of the plane"
before it hit the ground with a huge explosion that "shook the whole village."
This website would suggest that the reported "small fire at the back of the plane" would indicate a possible Stinger missile strike.
Nato troops are conducting major operations in the area against the Taliban but Manan said fighting was centred about six miles from the village.
The "aircraft was supporting a NATO mission. It went off the radar and crashed in an open area" about 12 miles west of Kandahar city, said Maj. Scott Lundy, spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force.
Fitted with electronic surveillance equipment and with the ability to loiter in the skies for extended periods, the Nimrod can be used for intelligence gathering and as an airborne command and control post for coordinating operations on the ground. In which capacity it may have been engaged when it went down, analysts say, as among the 14 dead were 12 RAF personnel, a Royal Marine and an army officer.
The plane was taking part in an operation involving over two thousand Coalition and Afghan government troops codenamed Operation Medusa.
The latest report from southern Afghanistan indicate that a further four Canadian soldiers have been killed in the operation.
The crash comes two days after a Dutch F-16 pilot was killed when his plane crashed
in southern Afghanistan in what Nato spokesmen also claimed was an “accident”, and a day after another British soldier was killed
in the troubled Helmand province.
Last updated 08/09/2006