Afghanistan Crash Killed 6 Americans

From Times Wire Services

Los Angeles Times

December 1, 2004

KABUL, Afghanistan — Search teams discovered the wreckage of a U.S. aircraft that crashed in central Afghanistan and confirmed that the six Americans aboard died, the U.S. military said today.

The Casa 212 civilian fixed-wing transport, which was carrying three military personnel and three civilian crew members, crashed in the mountains of Bamian province Saturday, military spokesman Maj. Mark McCann said.

McCann declined to identify those aboard until next of kin had been informed.

The military said Tuesday that there was no indication the plane had been brought down by hostile fire after leaving Bagram air base north of Kabul for an undisclosed destination.

The small transport plane was operated by Florida-based Presidential Airways, McCann said. The model is designed to land on and take off from the kind of short, rough airstrips used to supply American forces who are deployed in remote areas of the country to search for Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.

It is feared that those groups could attempt a spring offensive aimed at disrupting parliamentary elections. A U.S. general said Tuesday that thousands of soldiers are preparing an operation against them to preempt such a move.

The operation will begin within days of the Dec. 7 inauguration of Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan's president — an event that itself is a potential target, Maj. Gen. Eric Olson said.

Olson said the offensive would attempt to disturb militants in their "winter sanctuaries" so that they would be in no condition to take action against the parliamentary vote slated for the spring.