An RAF helicopter which crashed in Afghanistan may have hit a security surveillance balloon, reports suggest, Sky News reports. Two RAF service personnel were among five people killed in the crash on Sunday at the NATO base in Kabul. Five others were injured.
US Army Colonel Brian Tribus, a military spokesman, earlier said an “incident” involving a NATO aircraft and an observational balloon had taken place “in the vicinity of the Resolute Support base”. The balloon was severed from its mooring during the incident, he said, without providing further details.
The Puma Mk 2 aircraft hit the security balloon, according to an unnamed Afghan official. An Afghan security guard who witnessed the incident, Najibullah, also told the Associated Press that the helicopter appeared to hit the balloon as it was landing.
The aircraft “hit the cable of the security balloon over the base. It seemed like the cable was turned around the helicopter rotor”, said Najibullah, who goes by one name. UGC footage has emerged of a balloon falling after the helicopter came down.
The two RAF members who were killed were from 230 and 33 Squadrons. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: “The incident is currently under investigation but we can confirm that it was an accident and not the result of insurgent activity.”
Their relatives have been informed and have requested a period of grace before their names are released, she said. All five killed were from Resolute Support, a NATO-led mission to train Afghan security forces following the stand-down of the International Security Assistance Force last year.
Around 500 British troops remain in Afghanistan as part of the mission. The latest deaths bring the total number of British forces personnel or MoD civilians killed while serving in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001 to 456.
Earlier on Sunday, at least three people were injured in a suicide attack on a convoy of British troops in Kabul. Three civilians suffered minor injuries after the bomber drove his car into the armoured vehicle during rush-hour, causing slight damage to it.