Crash kills members of Navy Seals Team 6
Kabul - A military helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan, killing 31 US special operation troops, most of them from the elite Navy Seals unit that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, along with seven Afghan commandos.
It was the deadliest single incident for American forces in the decade-long war.
The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with rocket fire while it was taking part in a raid on a house where insurgents were gathered in the province of Wardak late on Friday.
It said wreckage of the craft was strewn at the scene. A senior US administration official in Washington said the craft was apparently shot down by insurgents. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the crash is still being investigated.
Nato confirmed the overnight crash took place and that there "was enemy activity in the area". But it said it was still investigating the cause and conducting a recovery operation at the site. It did not release details or casualty figures.
"We are in the process of accessing the facts," said US Air Force Captain Justin Brockhoff, a Nato spokesperson.
One current and one former US official said that the dead included more than 20 Navy Seals from Seal Team Six, the unit that carried out the raid in Pakistan in May that killed bin Laden.
They were being flown by a crew of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because families are still being notified.
None of those killed in the crash is believed to have been part of the Seals mission that killed bin Laden, but they were from the same unit as the bin Laden team.