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Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 16:56 UK

US helicopter downed near Kabul

A US Blackhawk helicopter arrives at Kandahar on 25 May 2008
A number of helicopters have been shot down in Afghanistan

An American Blackhawk helicopter has been shot down in Afghanistan in a province bordering the capital, Kabul.

The aircraft was brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade, a military spokesman said.

The pilot managed to land the craft and get the crew and passengers to safety before it caught fire, he said.

Meanwhile, the governor of Nimroz province in the south-west of the country has survived a suicide attack, which killed four other people.

Governor Ghulam Dastageer Azad said the attack took place on a convoy of vehicles he was travelling in.

'Burned out'

The Blackhawk was taking part in operations under the US-led coalition when it was hit by what a spokesman called "small arms fire".

He described how the pilot was able to crash-land the helicopter and to get all the passengers and crew off the aircraft before it caught fire.

There were no reports of any serious injuries.

The Blackhawk was flying quite close to the ground when it was hit in Logar province which borders Kabul - just a short distance from the Afghan capital in an area described by a local MP as a Taleban stronghold.

The Blackhawk was burned out in the crash and the coalition said the remains were completely destroyed by a precision strike.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Kabul says there have been a number of problems with coalition and Nato helicopters over the last month.

A few days ago another Blackhawk crash-landed and rolled over in a dust cloud, a Chinook crashed in Kunar province after suffering engine failure and a small scout helicopter crashed in Kandahar a few weeks ago.

A Nato spokesman said it had been a particularly busy month and there are now more troops and aircraft in the country.

June was the bloodiest month for international forces since the campaign against the Taleban began at the end of 2001.

A number of helicopters have been shot down in Afghanistan. Seven troops died last summer when an American Chinook was shot down in Helmand province.



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