WASHINGTON -- A U.S. Army helicopter crashed on a nighttime mission in southwestern Afghanistan on Thursday, and initial reports from the scene indicated that as many as four soldiers may have been killed, a U.S. defense official said.
In a brief official announcement, the American military command in Kabul said there were "no confirmed reports" of casualties "at this time." The announcement did not specify the nationality of the helicopter crew and said the cause of the crash was unknown.
Two U.S. defense officials said four U.S. troops were aboard the helicopter, identified as an Army Black Hawk, and one official said initial word from the scene was that officials "don't expect" that any of the four survived. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because details were still being collected and the families of the helicopter crew had not yet been notified.
Unspecified weather difficulties may have played a role in the crash, the two officials said, but it also was possible that enemy action was factor.
Police take their position alongside a giant picture of Afghan national hero Ahmad Shah Massoud, on the roof of police headquarters in Kabul on May 7, 2012. The United States has freed up to 20 detainees from a military prison in Afghanistan over the past two years in an effort to promote reconciliation with insurgent groups, the US embassy said. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)
An Afghan youth looks out from an intricately carved truck window at a police checkpoint in Kabul on May 7, 2012. Afghan forces are ready to take responsibility for security in 2013, the defence ministry said on May 7, reacting to a pledge to withdraw French troops early by president-elect Francois Hollande. Hollande made a campaign promise to pull French soldiers out of Afghanistan this year, ending his country's combat role two years earlier than NATO's carefully crafted plan to hand security control to Afghans by 2014. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/GettyImages)
|@ ISAFmedia : AP reports: Afghan Govt forces will thwart any attacks mounted by Taliban. http://t.co/qDEtWRsI #ANSFCanDo|
|@ headlinenews : Fox: What French presidential vote means for European debt crisis, Afghan war, global diplomacy: French voters c... http://t.co/E6fcgbiH|
U.S. servicemen inside of a plane before their departure to Afghanistan from the U.S. transit center Manas, 30 km outside the Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek, on March 27, 2012. A planned withdrawal of US and coalition forces by the end of 2014 hinges on building up Afghan army and police, but the surge in 'fratricidal' attacks threatens to undermine that strategy, with strained relations between NATO troops and Afghan forces marked by distrust and cultural clashes. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/GettyImages)
An Afghan boy walks with his cow at sunset in Mazar-i Sharif, capital of the Balkh province on April 9, 2012. Agriculture has traditionally driven the Central Asian nation's economy, with wheat and cereal production being mainstays and quality fruits, especially pomegranates, apricots, grapes, melons, and mullberries being exported to many countries. (QAIS USYAN/AFP/GettyImages)
|@ JoeNBC : Looking Ahead to the Afghan War's Next Decade - Global - The Atlantic Wire: http://t.co/CWSrDjih|
Gazing glumly over millions of dollars worth of machinery which used to churn out thousands of police and army boots each day but now sits wreathed in plastic sheeting, Farhad Saffi fears he is seeing the death of an Afghan dream.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul on May 3, 2012. Karzai hailed a new pact with the United States but warned that tough negotiations on Washington's military presence in his war-torn country after 2014 still lay ahead. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of the ISAF forces in Afghanistan, explains to Al Jazeera English why the handover in the turbulent country is "like building an airplane in midflight."
|@ cbrangel : As we begin our withdrawal from Afghanistan, we honor the 1,828 heroic Americans who paid the ultimate sacrifice.http://1.usa.gov/IywJn3|