WASHINGTON, Aug 10: A US F-16 fighter jet has killed Taliban militants who brought down an American helicopter in Afghanistan on Aug 6, killing 38 soldiers, the commander of US and coalition forces in Afghanistan said on Wednesday.
Twenty-five of those killed in the copter crash were members of an elite US commandos unit which eliminated Osama bin Laden in a daring raid inside Pakistan on May 2. Others included five US crew members, seven Afghan soldiers and one interpreter.
The US-led “coalition forces (have) killed the Taliban insurgents responsible for this attack against the helicopter,” Marine Corps Gen John R. Allen told reporters at the Pentagon. “This does not ease our loss, but we must and we will continue to relentlessly pursue the enemy.”
The general also confirmed that the US helicopter was brought down by a rocket propelled grenade fired by the Taliban fighters.
In a video briefing from his headquarters in Kabul, Gen Allen said that near midnight on Aug 8, coalition forces called in a precision airstrike with F-16s over the Chak district of Wardak province.
The strike killed Taliban leader Mullah Mohibullah and the militant who fired the shot on the US helicopter, US officials told reporters.
Mohibullah was a key facilitator in an attack cell led by Din Mohammad, a Taliban leader killed in a previous special operations mission.
As a leader in Mohammad’s network in the Tangi Valley, Mohibullah had 12 Taliban fighters under his command, including potential suicide bombers, US officials said.
US Special operations forces received several intelligence leads and tips from local civilians and after an exhaustive manhunt, they located Mullah Mohibullah and the shooter as they were trying to flee the country.