Two RAF personnel, two US service members and one French contracted civilian have died following a helicopter crash in , officials from the Ministry of Defence and the Nato-led Afghan training mission Resolute Support have said. A further five people were injured.
The British Puma Mk 2 helicopter crashed on Sunday while attempting to land at the Resolute Support headquarters in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokeswoman said: “It is with regret that [we] must announce the death of two personnel from 230 and 33 Squadrons, , in Kabul following an accident involving a UK Puma Mk 2 helicopter earlier today.
“The helicopter crashed while landing at the headquarters of Resolute Support: the Nato train, advise and assist mission in Afghanistan. The incident is currently under investigation but we can confirm that it was an accident and not the result of insurgent activity.
“The family of the two personnel who were killed have been informed and requested a period of grace before their names are released.”
The RAF squadrons from which the British personnel came are based at RAF Benson, between Oxford and Reading in south Oxfordshire.
Resolute Support is the Nato-led mission to train and assist Afghan security forces and institutions, following the stand-down of the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) last year.
The came into service in March this year.
Earlier, US military spokesman Brian Tribus said an incident involving a Nato aircraft and an observation balloon had taken place “in the vicinity of the Resolute Support base”.
The balloon was severed from its mooring in the incident, he said, without providing further details.
An Afghan security guard who witnessed the incident told Associated Press that the helicopter appeared to strike the balloon as it landed at the Nato base.
Najibullah, the Afghan security guard who witnessed the incident, said the helicopter “hit the cable of the security balloon over the base. It seemed like the cable was turned around the helicopter rotor,” he said.
Najibullah said the helicopter went down and then black smoke rose from the area.
A second helicopter circled around the area three or four times and then landed at a nearby airport, he said.
The MoD also confirmed on Sunday that a British military convoy was attacked in Kabul. According to reports, the explosion in the centre of the city injured three civilians but no deaths were reported.
The MoD said the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device and there were no British casualties. But the Taliban, which claimed responsibility, and Kabul’s police chief said the Nato convoy was targeted by a suicide car bomber.
An MoD spokesman said: “We can confirm that at approximately 9.10am this morning a convoy of UK military vehicles on a routine road move, as part of the Nato Resolute Support mission in Kabul, was struck by an improvised explosive device. There were no UK casualties.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid sent a statement to local media claiming responsibility for the explosion.
There have been a number of attacks in Kabul in recent weeks, including an incident on 6 October, in which the house of former Helmand governor Nahim Baloch was targeted.
Camp Bastion, the last UK base in Afghanistan, was handed over to the control of Afghan security forces in October last year, ending British combat operations in the country.
The latest deaths bring the total number of British forces personnel or MoD civilians killed while serving in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001 to 456.