Helicopter crash kills 5 members of Nato-led security forces in Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) - Five Nato-led service members were killed when a helicopter crashed due to technical failure in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, the coalition forces and a provincial official said. "ISAF is still in the process of reviewing the circumstances to determine more facts," the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said. It did not provide details of their nationalities.

A spokesman for Kandahar Governor Tooryalai Wesa confirmed the crash occurred near Kandahar City. "Today at 11am an ISAF helicopter crashed due to technical problems in Takhteh Pol district. As a result five ISAF soldiers were killed," spokesman Dawakhan Minapal said.

Foreign forces casualties have fallen in the past few months, as United States-led forces start to wind down operations ahead of a year-end deadline to leave Afghanistan.

The United States has been at odds with President Hamid Karzai who has refused US entreaties to sign a bilateral security agreement that would permit about 8,000 US troops to remain in the country after the formal US withdrawal at the end of the year.

The leading contenders to replace Mr Karzai have, however, said they will sign the agreement to allow the small contingent of US forces to stay in the country for counter-terrrorism and Afghan training purposes.

Since the start of the year, nearly twice as many foreign civilians have been killed in attacks this year compared to foreign troops. At least 24 foreign civilians, including doctors and journalists, have been shot or killed in bomb attacks.

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