Military helicopter crash kills 25 in Afghanistan

Russian military helicopter crashes

An army helicopter on Wednesday crashed in southwestern Afghanistan killing 25 people on board.

Officials said the dead includes a top commander and the head of the provincial council key in fighting off a Taliban attack in May.

Taliban insurgents fighting the Western-backed government said they shot it down.

Two army helicopters were on their way from Farah province to neighbouring Herat when one lost control in low visibility and crashed into a mountain, Naser Mehri, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told Reuters.

Among the passengers were Nematullah Khalil, Deputy Army Corps Commander for the western region, and Farid Bakhtawar, the outspoken Head of Farah’s Provincial Council. The other victims, apart from the crew, were soldiers and council members, Mehri said.

Bakhtawar was a major figure in battling the Taliban in the battle for the city of Farah which the militants besieged and threatened to take over in May.

The Taliban are seeking to remove the government and reimpose strict Islamic law after their ouster by U.S.-led forces in 2001.