US helicopters collide in Iraq

Map of Iraq

Two US helicopters have crashed after an apparent mid-air collision north of Baghdad, killing two soldiers and wounding five more, the US said.The helicopters came down in the early hours of the morning near a US military base south-west of Taji.

An investigation was under way but the crash did not appear to be the result of “enemy fire”, a US statement said.

Meanwhile three car bombs and a mortar exploded in southern Baghdad killing at least 15 people, Iraqi police said.

Another 50 people were injured in the attacks, in a market in the Al-Shurta al-Arabaa district. Women and children were among the casualties.

Reports are coming in of a third bomb, but there are no indications yet about casualties.

The attacks came a day after a suicide attack on a crowded market in the Shia holy city of Karbala, which is now known to have killed 42 people, and a truck bomb attack on a bridge in southern Baghdad.

Car and suicide bombs have occurred almost daily in Baghdad in recent months, despite a US-led security crackdown which began in February.

Cause for concern

The US military gave no details about the types of helicopter involved in Sunday’s apparent collision.

The US has lost more than 50 helicopters in Iraq since the 2003 invasion with the loss of a number of soldiers.

At least 11 were downed in the first two months of this year, most as a result of enemy fire.

The BBC’s Jonathan Charles in Baghdad says helicopters are crucial to coalition operations in this part of Iraq, and the losses have been a cause for concern for the military.

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