By Mark Magnier
The Los Angeles Times
KABUL - Two American troops died in a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, military officials said.
The U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force said it was investigating the cause of the crash, which took place in a field, but early indications were that there was no hostile activity nearby. Foreign troops often use helicopters to avoid roadside bombs and other ground-based dangers.
The latest deaths bring to nine the number of Americans killed this month, including three civilians, and to 25 the number killed this year, according to a tally by the Associated Press. The violence comes as ISAF turns more security responsibility over to its Afghan counterparts in advance of the scheduled withdrawal of foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.
Also on Tuesday, a roadside bomb killed three Afghan civilians as they drove in the Nawa district of Helmand province, in the south, according to Afghan news reports.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International urged all sides in the conflict to halt the civilian casualties. At least nine civilians were killed Monday when a bus hit a roadside bomb in Wardak province, in the east. On Saturday, at least 12 civilians were reportedly killed in eastern Kunar province by a NATO airstrike called in after a Taliban attack. NATO is investigating that claim.
And last Wednesday, at least 41 civilians were killed and more than 100 were injured in an attack on a court compound in Farah province, in the west.
“All parties to the conflict must make a distinction between civilians and combatants,“ Polly Truscott, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Asia-Pacific region, said in a statement. She added that “deliberately targeting civilians for attack is a war crime.“
According to the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, 2,750 civilians were killed in the Afghan conflict in 2012. Of those, the Taliban and other insurgent groups were blamed for 79 percent and international and Afghan forces for 8 percent.