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7 killed as U.S. copter crashes in Afghanistan

Story Highlights

Taliban spokesman reportedly claims militants shot CH-47 Chinook down
• Five American crew members, two military passengers killed
• Ground troops responding to crash came under attack, NATO says
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A U.S. CH-47 Chinook helicopter went down Wednesday night in southern Afghanistan, killing all seven aboard, U.S. and NATO officials said.

Preliminary reports indicate the helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade, officials said.

The crew of five Americans and two military passengers were killed.

Additionally, NATO officials said the team that responded to the crash was ambushed, forcing them to call in an airstrike. (Watch how the ambush reveals a new tactic Video)

NATO said one civilian was wounded during that attack, Reuters reported.

Qari Yousef Ahmadi, calling himself a Taliban spokesman, told the AP that militants had shot the helicopter down. The claim could not be verified.

The crash occurred at 9 p.m. (noon ET) in the Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, where Afghan and NATO forces are trying to neutralize Taliban guerrillas and complete an important hydroelectric project, Reuters reported.

The project, which includes the rebuilding of a dam, is expected to increase electric power and spur development in the region, according to Reuters.

CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

Reuters contributed to this report.

An American CH-47 Chinook helicopter similar to this one went down Wednesday in Helmand province.



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