KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 10 (UPI) — A U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan killed the insurgents thought to be responsible for an attack on a helicopter that killed 38 people, officials said Wednesday.
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen said the military in Afghanistan tracked the insurgents after they shot down the NATO Chinook helicopter during the weekend, The New York Times reported.
NATO officials said Taliban leader Mullah Mohibullah, along with the insurgent who fired the shot on the helicopter, were killed in the precision airstrike Monday, CNN reported. Several other Taliban associates also were killed, the military said.
In the Saturday strike against the Chinook, Taliban insurgents attacked the helicopter, likely with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, the Pentagon said. The casualty list included 22 Navy SEALs, three Air Force special operations personnel, a five-person Army helicopter crew, seven Afghan commandos and a civilian Afghan translator.
It was the largest loss of American life in a single day in the nearly decade-old war.
In a video-conference briefing from Kabul Wednesday, Allen said the Chinook helicopter was flying a mission when it also encountered small arms fire as it entered the Tangi Valley in restive Wardak province, west of Kabul.
An investigation has begun to determine the exact cause of the crash.
The Chinook was flying to the scene of a firefight in which Army Rangers were trying to capture a local Taliban leader responsible for a series of attacks, who Allen said eluded capture.
“We will continue to pursue that network,” Allen said, declining to name the leader.
The remains of the 38 U.S. service members arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Tuesday. The Afghan remains will be returned to their families once identifications can be made, U.S. officials said.