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17 Soldiers Die in Iraq Helicopter Crash

17 Soldiers Die in Iraq Helicopter Crash

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The U.S. military said 17 soldiers were killed in the crash of two Black Hawk helicopters in the northern city of Mosul, five were injured and one remained unaccounted for.

The death toll from the two Black Hawks surpassed that of the Nov. 2 crash of a Chinook helicopter, which was shot down near Fallujah. Sixteen died in the Chinook crash.

A statement by the U.S. command said one helicopter was carrying a quick reaction force and the other ferried soldiers on a transport mission in northern Iraq.

The statement did not give the cause of the crash, although some soldiers at the scene said at least one of the Black Hawks may have been hit by ground fire. Witnesses said the two Black Hawks collided in mid-air and came down in a residential area of western Mosul.

"The cause of the incidents are under investigation," the statement said. "We will not speculate on the cause of these crashes."

The statement said the site was secured by U.S. troops, Iraqi police and firefighters. The aircraft came from the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Ky.

"The 101st Airborne Division remains committed to accomplishing its mission of maintaining of a safe and secure environment in northern Iraq so that the re-establishment of government institutions can go forward," the statement said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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