Pakistani army denies Taliban shooting down military helicopter (Pakistan)

The Pakistani army on Thursday denied a claim by local Taliban in the country's restive North Waziristan tribal region that they had shot down an army helicopter, which killed four soldiers.


Abdullah Farhad, a purported spokesman for the local Taliban claimed that their fighters shot down the chopper with the help of a missile on Wednesday.

"The evidences we have collected from the crash site substantiate that the claim of the militants is a lie. Their claim is totally baseless," army spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan told a private television channel.

The helicopter crashed while it was heading to North Waziristan from Bannu, a major city at the edge of the tribal region.

"The helicopter came down in the middle of the dam and no ground fire could have reached where the chopper was flying," the spokesman said.

Sultan said that the pilot had informed the control tower about technical fault and the helicopter had started flying at low altitude after the problem was developed.

He said that three soldiers jumped out of the helicopter into dam water, who were later rescued.
Taliban spokesman Farhad said the militants had been carrying out attacks on military helicopters in the past but they had not succeeded. "Now we have succeeded to hit a military helicopter," he said.

The pilot and co-pilot of the helicopter were among the four soldiers on board killed. Three soldiers were rescued.

The Taliban spokesman also claimed responsibility for the killing of three paramilitary soldiers, who died when a roadside landmine hit their vehicle in North Waziristan on Wednesday.

He said that militants would step up attacks as the government forces would try to exert more pressure on them.

Von: 23.6.2006

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