Military chopper carrying 13 people crashes in Indonesia

JAKARTA (REUTERS, JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A military helicopter carrying 13 people crashed in central Indonesia on Sunday, with preliminary reports saying all people on board were killed, a spokesman said.

"There are 13 military officers and preliminary reports said they were killed but we are still trying to verify this information," I Made Sutia, a local military spokesman, told AFP.

The Bell helicopter went down in Kasiguncu village in Poso district, central Sulawesi, where a radical Islamic group is waging a guerilla war against the government.

The group, East Indonesia Mujahiddin (MIT) is led by Indonesia's most wanted man Abu Wardah. His calls to launch a holy 'jihad' have reportedly gone viral on Youtube.

Indonesia has been beefing up operations to stop the terrorist group from gaining new recruits, and to hunt down the militants who are hiding in Poso's forests.

Security officials have killed at least five MIT terrorists, including Fonda Amar Soalihin, also known as Dodo or Ponda, whose memory card was retrieved.

The Indonesian military has been hit with repeated aircraft accidents in recent years.

Last month, a small Super Tucano turboprop plane crashed into a densely populated area during a test flight, killing three people.

In December last year two pilots were killed when a military plane crashed in central Java while performing manoeuvres.

And last June, a Hercules C-130 crashed into a residential neighbourhood in Medan, the largest city on Sumatra island, killing 142 people and causing widespread destruction.