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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 February, 2004, 15:32 GMT
Pilot killed in Afghanistan crash
Soldiers walk along the new Kabul-Kandahar highway
The helicopter belonged to a firm rebuilding a highway in the lawless south
A civilian helicopter has crashed in Afghanistan, killing the pilot, after being hit by small-arms fire.

The Foreign Office in London told the BBC that a British man on board had been seriously injured.

The chopper, owned by the Louis Berger Group, apparently came down in Panjwayi, about 50km (30 miles) south-west of the southern city of Kandahar.

The US construction firm employs about 50 employees in Afghanistan, who are mainly American but include Britons.

Investigation

One report quotes Afghan officials as saying more people died in the crash, but this has not been confirmed.

An American aid worker is reported to be seriously injured while there is confusion over the nationality of the pilot with one news agency indentifying him as an Australian.

An Afghan military commander in Kandahar told Associated Press that a team had been dispatched to investigate the circumstances of the crash.

It is not yet known how many people were on board, or whether the accident occurred when the helicopter was in the air, or trying to take off.

The company is currently overseeing a $250m project to improve the main road between the capital Kabul and Kandahar.

Some of those on the helicopter had intended to inspect a school near Kandahar, a spokesman for the local governor, Khalid Pashtoon, said.

Lawlessness persists in this part of the country, and workers on rebuilding projects have been vulnerable to insurgent attacks and kidnappings.




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