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August 7, 2011

‎31 lost, 31 unwanted visits, 31 doors received that dreaded knock, 31 families with shattered hearts, 31 pairs of boots lined up with rifles and dog tags and helmets, 31 comrades remembered and grieved for, 31 funeral services, 31 names on newly made grave markers, 31 empty places at the table, 31 souls who gave all, whose lives leave a void, so let's take 31 seconds to re-post this and pause to reflect on such a sacrifice as 31 gone forever. Yet 31 never forgotten!!
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai says 31 members of U.S. special forces and seven members of an Afghan special unit have died in a helicopter crash in the eastern part of the country.
Officials say the crash in Wardak Province represents the biggest death toll in a single incident for international forces in Afghanistan since the war began nearly 10 years ago.
Media reports quote U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, as saying that many of those killed were part of the Navy SEAL unit that was responsible for killing al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden several months ago in Pakistan.
The international coalition confirmed the crash in a statement, but gave no additional details about the possible cause or any casualties. However, the coalition did say that reporting indicated there was enemy activity in the area and that it is investigating the incident.
The Taliban claimed it shot down the aircraft with a rocket when the helicopter attacked a house where insurgents had gathered. It said eight of its fighters died in the assault.
Eyewitnesses in the area say there were several helicopters involved in the action and that the Chinook transport helicopter came down after trying to lift off.
President Karzai expressed his condolences Saturday to U.S. President Barack Obama and to the families of the victims. Mr. Obama said in a statement that his thoughts and prayers go out to the victims' families and loved ones and that he mourns the Afghans who died alongside the U.S. troops.
In a separate statement, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he was “deeply saddened” by the deaths of the American troops and their Afghan counterparts.
The previous biggest death toll for international forces in Afghanistan since the start of the war was in 2005 when the Taliban shot down a military helicopter, killing 16 U.S. troops in eastern Kunar province.
A recent United Nations study found that security incidents are up by 50 percent when compared to the same period last year.
The spike in violence comes as the international coalition moves forward with transferring security control of certain areas to the Afghan forces in preparation for withdrawing from the country in the coming years.
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NATO Investigates
Deadly Afghan Helicopter Crash
VOA News
August 7, 2011
NATO is investigating Taliban claims that they shot down a U.S. army helicopter in central Afghanistan killing 38 people, including elite U.S. special forces.
Fighting continued in Wardak province Sunday where the Chinook CH-47 transport helicopter went down late Friday. Thirty U.S. troops, including Navy SEALs special forces, died in the crash along with seven Afghan commandos and an interpreter.
The Taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack. Local Afghan government forces say the helicopter crashed after being hit by a rocket. The crash took place following a U.S. led raid against a Taliban-controlled compound in which coalition forces killed eight militants.
Meanwhile in other violence, NATO says four service members were killed Sunday in two separate insurgent attacks in southern Afghanistan and the country's east.
Also, the office of the French president says two French soldiers were killed and five others wounded in a clash with insurgents in Afghanistan's northeastern Tagab Valley.
The office says Sunday's deaths brings to 72 the number of French soldiers killed since the start of the war.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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