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In two separate incidents, a pair of American transport helicopters were forced into emergency landings Sunday in Afghanistan. Five U.S. soldiers and one Afghan National Army soldier were injured.

The helicopters, both CH-47 Chinooks, were “involved in combat operations against enemy forces” at the time of the crashes, according to a U.S. military release.

In the first incident, a Chinook flying near Tarin Kowt was forced into an emergency landing at a U.S. forward operating base. One Afghan soldier was injured, and is listed in stable condition at a U.S. military medical facility, according to officials from Combined Joint Task Force-76.

In the second and more serious incident, a Chinook went down north of Kandahar, injuring the five U.S. soldiers. All were evacuated to a medical facility and are listed in stable condition. The second Chinook sustained “severe damage” in the crash, officials said.

A purported Taliban spokesman called news agencies Sunday claiming the group had shot down the Chinook flying north of Kandahar, but his claims have often proven exaggerated or false in the past.

The incidents are the latest in a string of helicopter problems this year. Afghanistan’s harsh environment is notoriously tough on helicopters, but because of terrain, they are relied upon heavily for transporting troops and supplies.

In late October, four members of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force were injured when their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was forced to make a “hard landing” during an operation in Uruzgan province.

In late September, five soldiers were killed when a Chinook was apparently shot down during a combat mission in southern Afghanistan. Officials originally said no enemy fire was suspected in that crash.

Another Chinook ferrying American and Afghan personnel made what the military termed a “hard landing” on July 28 near Spin Boldak in southwestern Afghanistan. Fire destroyed the aircraft, but the six Americans and 25 Afghans on board escaped serious injury.

On June 28, a Chinook ferrying special operations troops near Asadabad was shot down while trying to rescue a group of SEALS that had come under fire. All 17 military personnel on board died.

On April 6, a helicopter from Company F, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade went down while ferrying troops and supplies between forward operating bases in the eastern region of the country. All five crewmembers and 13 passengers — including three civilian contractors — were killed. Investigators later said a sudden, fierce sandstorm caused that crash.


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