Three helicopters went down in Afghanistan on Monday, killing at least 11 U.S. soldiers and three American civilians. The deaths added to a monthly toll that is among the worst for U.S. forces since the war began eight years ago.
In one of the incidents, U.S. forces in helicopters killed dozens of Taliban insurgents during a raid on a suspected militia compound in the country's west. The operation targeted possible narcotics trafficking in the area.
But as one of the helicopters was leaving, it suddenly went down, killing seven servicemen and three U.S. civilians working for the government. Eleven soldiers, one U.S. civilian and 14 Afghans were also injured in the crash.
The military has conducted joint operations with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration teams. The Associated Press, citing an unnamed source, reported three DEA agents were killed in the crash, but a DEA spokesman in Kabul declined to comment on whether his agents were involved in this raid.
The cause of the crash was unknown, but the U.S. military said it was not believed to be from enemy action.
In a second helicopter incident, two U.S. Marine attack helicopters collided while on an operation in southern Helmand province, killing four soldiers and injuring two others.
After the collision, a U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship was called in to support the recovery mission, as insurgents tried to close in on the crash site.
Collisions of U.S. helicopters have been rare, and most of the crashes in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been due to mechanical problems.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmedi claimed Taliban fighters shot down a helicopter in northwest Badghis province's Darabam district. It was impossible to verify the claim and unclear if he was referring to the same incident.
U.S. forces also reported the death of two other American troops a day earlier: one in a bomb attack in the east, and another who died of wounds sustained in an insurgent attack in the same region. The deaths bring to at least 47 the number of U.S. troops who have been killed in Afghanistan in October.
Monday's loss of life was the largest for U.S. forces in a single day in more than four years in Afghanistan. The deaths come as U.S. officials debate whether to send tens of thousands more troops to the country, and the Afghan government scrambles to organize a Nov. 7 runoff election between President Hamid Karzai and challenger Abdullah Abdullah.
From NPR staff and wire reports