U.S. helicopter shot down near Tikrit as Baghdad attack injures three U.S. soldiers
A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter was shot down Saturday by ground fire near former leader Saddam's ancestral hometown of Tikrit, U.S. officials said. The U.S. command in Baghdad said five soldiers were wounded.
Two helicopters were flying overhead when the second one in the formation was hit by a projectile, believed to be a rocket propelled grenade (RPG), witnesses said. The striken copter circled, swayed then came down in a farming area while the other hovered overhead, the AP cited them as saying.
It was the second time a U.S. helicopter has been downed by "hostile fire" since U.S. President George W. Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq on May 1. The last copter to be shot down was in June.
"A helicopter did go down," Capt. Jefferson Wolfe, a spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division, said. "We can confirm it. It was a Black Hawk. We are investigating."
Meanwhile, in Baghdad, the U.S. military command said the five people on board were injured but were "safely evacuated." The command did not say why the helicopter went down but added that after it crashed it received ground fire.
Smoke could be seen rising from the site, and an injured person was seen being removed from the site on a stretcher.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, on a three-day tour of Iraq, was in Tikrit earlier Saturday visiting the main U.S. garrison there. He left the city hours before the helicopter was shot down and was in the northern city of Kirkuk, U.S. officials said.
Elsewhere, three U.S. soldiers were wounded in an attack Saturday morning in the capital of Baghdad, according to a military spokesman.
The soldiers, from the 1st Armoured Division, were assaulted at 7 a.m. (local time) and were taken to a combat hospital for treatment, he added.
No further information was available. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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