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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 12:51 GMT
Army to examine helicopter crash
The helicopter crashed into a field near a built-up area
The helicopter crashed into a field near a built-up area
The military is to carry out an investigation into why an army helicopter crashed in south Armagh.

It happened in Crossmaglen just before 1800 GMT on Sunday at Foxfield Road, near an army base and a housing estate.

Four police officers and two military personnel were taken to hospital. Three were later released after treatment. One is being treated for a back injury.

The cause of the accident is not yet clear, but police said there was no indication of any terrorist link.

It is understood at least one of the casualties was airlifted to Craigavon Area Hospital while others were taken to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

As well as the person being treated for a serious back injury, two soldiers also remain in hospital.

Eyewitnesses said the Lynx helicopter clipped a fence near the Lismore housing estate before crashing in the field.

Vincent McParland and his wife watched the crash from their kitchen.

"We heard it coming and looked out, it was coming in brave and hard and low, next thing it swooped round and we saw it going round twice and went over on its side - next thing it hit the ground," he said.

The police said that ambulance crews removing the casualties from the scene came under attack by local youths throwing stones, fireworks and snowballs.

Similar attacks were made on police officers on the ground. There are no reports of any casualties.

Vincent McParland
Vincent McParland said the helicopter came in hard

DUP assembly member Ian Paisley Jnr said missile attacks on rescue workers were totally unacceptable.

"What really concerns me is the complete lack of political leadership on the ground in Crossmaglen from republican leaders telling people that this sort of behaviour is just not acceptable and it must stop," he said.

"We need to see that leadership and we need to see it fast."

But Conor Murphy, the Sinn Fein MP for the area, said he personally got the youths to stop.

"I saw kids throwing snowballs, we asked them to disperse and the vast majority of them did disperse and that was the end of it," he said.

"There's no pleasure taken from the fact that British army or police personnel were injured in this, but what people want them to do is stop the helicopter flights and for the British army to complete their withdrawal from this area."

SDLP assembly member Dominic Bradley said he had expressed concerns in the past about helicopter flights in the area.

"These flights pose a threat to the safety of local people as well as to police personnel," he said.

Last month, the Army guard post at Crossmaglen police station was removed as part of the government's plans to scale down the military presence in Northern Ireland.

The site has been transformed for use solely as a police station.

Witnesses describe what happened

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