U.S. and Afghan forces maintained a tight cordon around Joye Zarin and the surrounding area on Sunday as investigators continued inspecting the wreckage of the twin-rotor Chinook, the residents and local officials said.
The Tangi Valley is located at the southern end of Wardak Province, which borders Kabul, making it a strategic corridor through which Taliban fighters and arms are infiltrated into the capital region.
The residents provided fresh details of the worst loss of life suffered in a single incident by the U.S. military since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Many of those killed reportedly came from the same elite U.S. Navy SEALs contingent that included the unit that killed Osama bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan in May.
Their helicopter was participating in one of at least two night raids being conducted in the vicinity, they said.
"At 12 o'clock the same night, another group of U.S. special forces launched an operation in another place called Gulabkhil, which is about two kilometers away from the place where the helicopter was downed," said the second doctor.
Seven insurgents died in the fighting at Gulabkhil, he said. Barakzai put the number at six, while Wardak also said seven died, including a driver employed by her clinic who belonged to the Taliban.
"The area . . . is completely under the control of the Taliban," said Wardak. "These night raids have not brought security. This is the duty of the police, but unfortunately, the police are sleeping."
The second doctor said the helicopter that was shot down was one of two Chinooks that approached Joye Zarin as the operation in Gulabkhil was under way.
"The Taliban have their regular sentries to prevent American night raids," he said. "The two helicopters tried to land, but the Taliban fired two rockets at them. The helicopter (that was hit) was downed only about 100 meters from our house. Several small and big explosions were heard inside the helicopter. I think those explosions were due to the ammunition inside."
The aircraft was engulfed in flame and burned until around 8 a.m., he said.
(Shukoor is a McClatchy special correspondent.)
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