KABUL, Afghanistan — An American airstrike killed the
Taliban insurgents responsible for downing a helicopter and taking the
lives of 22 Navy SEALs and eight other U.S. service members, Western
military officials said Wednesday.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said
the strike on Tuesday in the Chak district of Wardak province, close to
the district where the Chinook helicopter was shot down, killed the
ringleader of Taliban operations in the area, as well as the man who was
determined to have been the shooter and several other insurgents.
The downing Saturday of the CH-47, which killed seven
Afghan commandos in addition to the American troops and an interpreter,
represented the worst loss of military lives in a single incident in
the nearly 10-year-old war.
Killed in the U.S. airstrike was a Taliban leader
identified as Mullah Mohibullah, who was described as a “key
facilitator” of Taliban operations in the Tangi Valley, about 60 miles
southwest of Kabul. He had about a dozen fighters under his command, the
Mohibullah replaced a Taliban leader who had been killed in an earlier U.S. operation.
Mohibullah and the man who shot down the helicopter
were located after an “exhaustive manhunt” that included tips from
villagers, according to the military statement. It said the insurgents
were trying to flee the country.
Although unofficial descriptions from military
officials have consistently indicated that the Chinook was shot down,
the military said the cause of the crash formally remained under
“While it has not been determined if enemy fire was
the sole reason for the helicopter crash, it did take fire from several
insurgent locations on its approach,” the ISAF statement said.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization force said the
airstrike was called in after the insurgents were tracked to a wooded
area, and that no civilians were hurt.
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