ISLAMABAD (AP) — At least three Afghan crew members were killed Saturday when a U.S.-manufactured Black Hawk helicopter they were flying crashed, the Taliban’s defense ministry said.
The statement said that five others were wounded in the accident during a training session overseen by Afghanistan's defense ministry at the capital of Kabul.
It is not known how many U.S. choppers remain in the hands of the Taliban government. As the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed in mid-August last year, dozens of Afghan pilots fled to Central Asian countries, including Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Afghan air force pilots played a key role, alongside their U.S. counterparts, in the 20-year war against Taliban insurgents that ended with the departure of foreign troops last year. The airstrikes inflicted heavy casualties among the Taliban and repeatedly drove them from positions they had seized in different parts of the country.
Last year about 140 Afghan pilots and others were flown out of Tajikistan then to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and their final destination in the U.S.
Separately, three civilians were wounded when a bicycle bomb exploded in Kabul, said Khalid Zadran, spokesman for the the capital's police chief.
The attack occurred in the Shai neighborhood and there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.
Recently, the Islamic State group has claimed similar attacks in the country. IS has waged a bloody campaign of attacks on Taliban targets and minority groups, particularly Shiites whom the extremist IS considers heretics.