Helicopter crashes in KRI, officials claim fatalities are PKK fighters
An unidentified helicopter crashed on Wednesday in the province of Duhok in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and seven people in the helicopter were killed by the crash, Kurdish media Rudaw reported citing a military source.
Videos submitted to Rudaw late Wednesday showed employees of an oil company running away from a large fire as the sound of sirens played in the background.
“Two helicopters were flying around the area. One of them broke down and spun around twice, before crashing and catching fire,” Haval Mohammed, an employee of the company and an eyewitness to the crash, told Rudaw's Nasir Ali.
The location of the crash, in the district of Chamanke, is located 15 km from Mount Gara, where clashes between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have been going on for months.
Officials of KRI's counter terrorism agency claimed on Thursday that the fatalities were PKK fighters.
“Preliminary investigations revealed that the helicopter was of type Eurocopter AS350 and that several of the passengers that were killed were PKK fighters,” the source said.
The PKK is yet to comment on the incident, while Turkey’s defense ministry quickly denied rumors that the helicopter belonged to the Turkish armed forces.
Iraq's government and the US led coalition were contacted by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) about the crash, but each denied the helicopter was theirs.