STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Today has been one of the deadliest days in memory for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In two separate incidents involving helicopters, at least 11 U.S. servicemen were killed along with three American civilians.
NPR's Tom Bowman reports.
TOM BOWMAN: U.S. forces were raiding a suspected insurgent compound in western Afghanistan, investigating possible narcotics trafficking. They got into a firefight with gunmen, then loaded onto a helicopter to leave the area. Not long after the helicopter was airborne, it suddenly went down, killing seven servicemen and three U.S. civilians and injuring a dozen others. U.S. officials said the downing did not involve hostile fire.
Officials would not say who the American civilians were working for. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency often works with U.S. forces, but a senior DEA official in Kabul declined to say whether his agents were among the dead.
In the other helicopter incident, two Marine attack helicopters collided while supporting an operation in Helmand Province, killing four and injuring two. As insurgents moved toward the crash scene, an Air Force AC-130 gunship flew in and unleashed a torrent of fire. Explosions could be heard miles away. It's rare for helicopters to collide. Most deadly helicopter incidents in Afghanistan and Iraq involve mechanical problems.
Meanwhile, two other U.S. servicemen were killed in eastern Afghanistan, one by a roadside bomb and another by small arms fire. With a week left in October, it could be among the deadliest months for U.S. servicemen since the war began in 2001.
Tom Bowman, NPR News, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
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