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Iraq helicopter crash: Several killed

DOHUK, Iraq –

Several people, including fighters belonging to a Kurdish insurgent group, were killed in a mysterious helicopter crash in northern Iraq, the Iraqi Kurdistan Counter-Terrorism Service said on Thursday.

Last night, an AS350 Eurocopter crashed in the Chamanke region of Dohuk province in the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, according to a statement by the anti-terrorist service, which was published on social networks. All its passengers were killed, according to the report.

An investigator at the crash site said at least seven people were on board. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media while the investigation is ongoing.

The helicopter was carrying militants belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, the statement said. The incident is shrouded in mystery as neither side has yet claimed ownership of the military helicopter.

The Iraqi government, the US-led coalition and Turkey were contacted by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government about the crash, but each side denied that the helicopter was theirs, the statement said.

PKK spokesman Zagros Hiva said the group does not have helicopters and they are also investigating the incident. He also questioned the presence of PKK militants on the plane, saying they may have a coalition helicopter carrying fighters with the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, another PKK affiliate operating in Syria.

A spokesman for the US-led coalition declined to comment, saying the crash was outside the scope of the coalition’s operations.

Turkish Defense Ministry officials said initial reports that the helicopter was Turkish were “completely untrue” and that no Turkish military helicopter had flown in the region.

The PKK has waged an insurgency against Turkey since the 1980s and is considered a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

Kurdistan Workers’ Party militants have created safe havens in northern Iraq and roam freely there and are often attacked by Turkey.

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