An Afghan military helicopter crashed on Thursday, killing 18 soldiers, an official said, in a blow for Afghanistan's fledgling air force, whose resources have been stretched since the end of the international combat mission last year.
At least five soldiers on board were killed in the crash, caused by technical difficulties as the helicopter was ferrying supplies, said Gul Islam Seyal, the spokesman for the government of the southern province of Zabul.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed the accident in a statement, saying it would release details on casualties later.
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Afghanistan's military has about 150 aircraft and 390 pilots, tiny compared to Nato's air power, which was deployed on air support, evacuation and supply flights before most international troops withdrew from the country last year.
The bulk of the fleet is made up of aging Mi-17 transport aircraft, though it was not clear what kind of helicopter crashed on Thursday.