AFGHANISTAN: rocket hits Apache, pilot killed; rocket hits tent, 2 Canadian soldiers, 5 US soldiers and 3 civilians injured;



[SIZE="4"]U.S. helicopter crash near Kandahar kills pilot[/SIZE]
Updated Sun. Jul. 2 2006 5:38 PM ET

CTV.ca News

A U.S. Apache assault helicopter, dispatched after another rocket attack on the Kandahar air base, has crashed.

The pilot died. The other air crewman was injured and evacuated to a military hospital Sunday night.

"We deeply regret the death of our superb pilot tonight,'' said Maj.-Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-76.

"(The pilot) went down a few kilometres northeast of the base," CTV's Steve Chao, on assignment in Afghanistan, told Newsnet.

Insurgents launched the rockets from an area better known as a picnic ground, he said.

"It is very rural, with a lot of hiding spots."

While Sunday's rocket attack left no one injured, a rocket struck a tent on Friday and left 10 people injured: Two Canadian soldiers, five U.S. soldiers and three civilian employees.

The attack critically injured one Canadian soldier. The military flew him to a hospital in Germany for treatment.

"We know that since Friday's attack ... the soldiers were very eager to find and catch those involved in these rocket attacks."

U.S. Col Steve Williams of the 10th Mountain Division said a second aircraft was in the air at the time.

"He did not see any enemy fire. We do not think any enemy aircraft brought the aircraft down."

The base's quick-reaction force has a pre-set plan to deal with rocket attacks on the base, he said.

Chao said the helicopters and other equipment operate in extreme conditions, with lots of dust and heat. "So every year, one or two helicopters crash due to mechanical failure."

Asked about morale, Chao said it was surprisingly good.

"Many Canadian soldiers just finished celebrating Canada Day yesterday, and many believe this is just par for the course for what they signed up for here," he said.

"However, the civilian workers on the base are very rattled. We understand that some have requested to go home, back to the U.S. or other places, because for them, seeing the violence or the threat up close has been very emotional."

U.S. helicopter crash near Kandahar kills pilot