Eleven Lost In Mishap
REAL TIME UPDATE 1331 EDT -- The death
toll has risen to eleven in the apparent shoot-down of a
civilian-owned Mi8 helicopter north of Baghdad. The Bulgarian
aircraft's owner was listed among the dead.
It was thought to be the first time a civilian aircraft
had been shot down in Iraq since the 2003 invasion led by US
forces, according to military sources.
Bulgarian and US
military officials said the Mi8 was brought down by a
rocket-propelled grenade Thursday. An Iraqi militant group claimed
responsibility for the attack.
"The Islamic Army in Iraq claims responsibility for
bringing down a ... cargo aircraft and killing all those on board,"
according to a statement posted on a web site often used by Iraqi
insurgents. It was quoted by Reuters.
Initial reports said the aircraft was chartered by a
Washington-based aviation company. It was owned by Bulgarian-based
Heli Air and chartered through SkyLink, operating from Canada. The
three crew members on board were Bulgarians, according to both Heli
Air and Skylink. At least six Americans were on board as
The six were employees of a North Carolina company
called Blackwater, which provides security services for the US
State Department in Iraq. The identities of the remaining victims
remained in question Thursday afternoon.
REAL-TIME UPDATE 0936 EDT-- Bulgaria's defense minister says the
civilian helicopter that went down near Baghdad Thursday was shot
down by a missile. In a statement from the ministry in Sofia, the
ministry said three of the nine people on board were Bulgarians.
The nationalities of the other six people aboard the Mi8 were not
immediately known, but they were all said to be civilian
A commercial helicopter went down some 12 miles north of Baghdad
Thursday, killing all nine people on board, according to the US
Embassy. There was no immediate word on the nationality of the
US military officials said the helicopter, a Russian-made Mi8
(file photo, below), was operating under a contract with coalition
authorities. Embassy officials said they couldn't immediately
confirm that claim.
The aircraft was operated by Skylink Air and Logistic Support of
the USA. So far, there's been no comment from the company.