Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Blackhawk makes 'hard landing', no casualties; Witness says 'ball of fire' hit it beforehand

A U.S. Blackhawk Helicopter

BAGHDAD, Feb 21 (Reuters) - A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter with nine people on board went down north of Baghdad on Wednesday, the military said.

A statement from the U.S. military said all nine were evacuated and there were no serious injuries. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Iraqi police captain Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said he saw some type of projectile hitting the helicopter before it came down in a rural area known as the Line, 30 kilometres north of Baghdad.

"I saw a ball of fire hitting the aircraft and smoke coming out of the helicopter as it came down," Mashhadani told Reuters.

Major-General William Caldwell, the chief U.S. military spokesman, told a news conference the helicopter had made a "hard landing", without giving more detail.

Insurgents have shot down seven helicopters in Iraq since Jan. 20, killing 28 people, mainly American soldiers. Five of those helicopters were U.S. military aircraft and two belonged to a private American security company.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet

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