WASHINGTON (AP) -- At least seven Americans were killed when two helicopters took enemy fire in the largest offensive of the five-month war to root terrorists out of Afghanistan, a Pentagon source said Monday.
In one incident, a Chinook helicopter was shot at and crashed. Six died in the crash or an ensuing firefight on the ground, said a senior defense official of condition of anonymity.
In the second incident, the official said, one American was killed when a helicopter was fired on, made a hard landing and then managed to take off again.
An unknown number of troops also were wounded in the incidents, which occurred in an operation started Friday against suspected al-Qaida and Taliban believed regrouping near Gardez in eastern Afghanistan.
Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said she didn't know whether a search-and-rescue operation was still under way for the Chinook that crashed.
The helicopter, normally used to ferry special forces troops and supplies, was downed on its way to the battle near Gardez.
The crashed helicopter was the first American aircraft taken down by enemy fire in the war, and the six killed represented the largest death toll from one incident caused by enemy fire.
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