Al-Qaida Affiliate Claims Responsibility For Latest Downing Of U.S Helicopter In Iraq

Saturday, April 7th 2007, 8:12 pm
By: News On 6

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ An al-Qaida affiliate in Iraq claimed responsibility in an Internet posting Saturday for this week's downing of a U.S. helicopter south of Baghdad.

The Islamic State of Iraq _ which groups al-Qaida in Iraq and several other Sunni extremist groups _ said in the statement posted on an Islamic Web site commonly used by the militants that it was behind the shooting of a U.S. Black Hawk on Thursday south of the Iraqi capital.

The statement, whose authenticity could not be independently verified, did not provide details of how the attack was carried out but claimed that ``all on board were killed.''

U.S. Army said in a brief statement Thursday that a helicopter carrying nine personnel went down south of Baghdad but that all on board survived. Four were wounded. The U.S. military did not give details but said the incident was under investigation.

Earlier on Thursday, an Iraqi army official said that a Black Hawk helicopter had gone down after it came under fire at in the morning near the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Latifiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of security concerns, said the militants apparently were using anti-aircraft heavy machine guns.

Saturday's posting described the weaponry used in Thursday's attack as ``developed air force arsenal.''

With Thursday's incident, at least nine U.S. helicopters have crashed or been brought down by hostile fire so far this year in Iraq.