U.S. Helicopter shot down in Iraq, 9 Killed
FALLUJAH, Iraq - A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter crashed Thursday near this stronghold of the anti-American insurgency, killing all nine soldiers aboard, the U.S. military said. A witness said the helicopter was hit in the tail by a rocket. There were no survivors among the nine American soldiers aboard the helicopter that crashed about 2:20 p.m. while making an "emergency landing" near Fallujah, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt in Baghdad.
Mohammed Ahmed al-Jamali, a farmer who lives close to the crash site, said he heard the whoosh of a rocket, saw it hit the helicopter in the tail and watched the chopper crash in flames. Al-Jamali, 27, said he rushed to the scene but found all aboard dead. "I was in the farm, I heard the sound, looked up and I saw the rocket hit. It hit it in the tail," al-Jamali said. He said there were two helicopters in the air, both with the distinctive red crosses of medical evacuation craft, and that the second one was hit.
The helicopter was a medical evacuation aircraft but it was unclear if it was carrying patients, a military official said on condition of anonymity.
Student Waleed Kurdi, 23, said he heard "a loud explosion and I saw the fire in the air." He said the aircraft exploded in two before it hit the ground. American troops arrived about an hour later, while a helicopter patrolled above, al-Jamali said.
The military also said a U.S. soldier died Wednesday of injuries suffered in a mortar attack that wounded 33 other troops and a civilian west of Baghdad. Wednesday's mortar attack occurred at Logistical Base Seitz about 12 miles west of Baghdad. The mortars hit "a living area where they have their sleeping quarters," a military spokesman said. Seven of the wounded were treated and returned to duty and the others were hospitalized at the base, the military said.