Helicopter brought down in Iraq by missile
The MI-8 helicopter, contracted from Washington-based SkyLink Air and Logistic Support (USA) Inc., was shot down north of the Iraqi capital Thursday, although it is not yet known by whom.
In the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, Defense Ministry spokesman Vladimir Prelezov said three of the victims were Bulgarians, and the helicopter was brought down by a missile or missiles. It crashed at 1:45 p.m. local time, about 12 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. Embassy said.
An embassy official confirmed nine people were killed, but provided no additional information on the casualties.
U.S. military officials said the helicopter was contracted by the U.S. Department of Defense, but the embassy could not confirm that.
The helicopter was flying between the Iraqi capital and the northern city of Tikrit when it crashed.
In other developments:
Al Qaeda, the country’s most feared terror group, claimed responsibility Thursday for a suicide car bombing that targeted interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s convoy but did not harm the Iraqi leader.
A roadside bomb exploded on the highway leading to Baghdad’s airport Thursday, heavily damaging three SUVs carrying civilians. Police Capt. Hamid Ali said two foreigners were killed and three wounded in the burning vehicles. But U.S. Embassy and military officials could not confirm the casualties.
The Iraqi Defense Ministry identified 19 bullet-riddled bodies found Wednesday in a stadium northwest of the capital as fishermen, not soldiers as initially rumored.
U.S. forces will make their presence better known in the area where nearly 60 bodies of Iraqi civilians have washed up on the banks of the Tigris River in recent days after Sunni militants abducted scores of Shiite residents, reports CBS Newsman Philip Smucker.
American military officials told Smucker three weeks ago that this was a region where foreign fighters were exploiting what they called “seams” in the American patrols. Now the American forces are going to be deployed there on a more permanent basis.
Recently, militants in Iraq did something unusual: they mounted a large-scale military-style attack on a U.S. Marine base guarding Iraq’s western border with Syria.
The Marines won the battle, but it was not easy.
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