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Nine die as Afghan choppers crash

Two helicopters have crashed in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, killing nine people aboard, the ministry of defence says, as a Taliban offensive in the region continues.

In a statement, the ministry said on Wednesday that the helicopters crashed overnight due to “technical issues” while taking off.

Two local officials told dpa that the helicopters collided when they were evacuating wounded soldiers from a battleground in the province’s Nawa district and were forced to land immediately.

According to local media, they were on a mission to send reinforcements to the district and carry out wounded soldiers.

For a week, Taliban militants have been attacking various parts of the southern province including the capital city of Lashkargah, amid no apparent progress in intra-Afghan peace talks.

The insurgents have cut the power supply to the city and the roads have been bombed, while the government’s Special Forces are hitting Taliban positions from the air and ground.

The violence has taken a toll on both civilians and military personnel, but no exact number has been published yet.

Around 35,000 people have fled heavy fighting in Helmand province in recent days, with the United Nations estimating on Tuesday that around 200 have been killed or injured during the massive Taliban offensive.

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