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U.S. helicopter shot down in Afghanistan

Insurgents shot down a U.S. helicopter in central Afghanistan on Monday, while a suicide bomber in the north killed two U.S. soldiers inside a police station, officials said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Insurgents shot down a U.S. helicopter after exchanging fire with its crew in central Afghanistan on Monday, while a suicide bomber in the north killed two U.S. soldiers inside a police station, officials said.

The helicopter was forced down in Wardak, one province west of Kabul, after insurgents hit it with gunfire Monday, said Lt. Cmdr. Walter Matthew, a U.S. military spokesman. The crew survived and have been extracted from the area, he said.

"The helicopter crew exchanged fire with the enemy before the damage brought the helicopter down," Matthews said. Coalition troops secured the area and "are in the process of recovering" the helicopter, he said.

At least four militants were killed in the exchange, said Fazel Karim Muslim, the chief of Sayed Abad district.

Increased insurgent activity
Wardak province has seen an increase in insurgent activity the last two years, and its main highway is now extremely risky to travel on, particularly at night. In mid-October, a U.S. Special Forces raid freed a kidnapped American working for the Army Corps of Engineers who had been held by his captors in Wardak for two months.

The U.S. and other foreign forces rely heavily on helicopters for transportation around Afghanistan, which is covered by rough mountains and long stretches of desert and has few decent roads.

Insurgents rarely bring down military helicopters, though they have hit several in recent years.

Suicide blast inside police station
Separately, a suicide bomber wearing a police uniform blew himself up inside a police station in northern Afghanistan on Monday, killing two American soldiers and wounding five other people, officials said.

The bomber entered a police station in Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province, while Afghan officials were meeting with U.S. troops advising a police training program, provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Rahman Sayed Kheil said.

The blast killed two American soldiers, a U.S. military spokesman said.

Four Afghan security officers were also wounded in the blast, Kheil said.

It was not immediately clear if the bomber was a policeman or just wearing the police uniform.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the blast in a phone call to an Associated Press reporter. Mujahid said the bomber's name was Abdul Had and that he was from Baghlan province.

Militants in Afghanistan have in the past disguised themselves in police or army uniforms when attacking Afghan and foreign troops. But actual policemen in the Afghan force were responsible for at least two recent attacks in eastern Afghanistan in which two U.S. soldiers died after police opened fire on them in two separate incidents.