KABUL — A helicopter crash killed nine troops from the NATO-led force in Afghanistan's south on Tuesday, making 2010 the deadliest year of the war for foreign troops just as attention turns to plans to start withdrawing them.
Violence is at its worst across Afghanistan since the Taliban was ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001, with military and civilian casualties at record levels.
The crash came soon after one of the deadliest days of the year Saturday, when the Taliban launched scores of attacks across the country in a bid to disrupt a parliamentary election.
The election was being closely watched in Washington ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's planned war strategy review in December, which will likely examine the pace and scale of U.S. troop withdrawals after nine years of war.
Obama's Democrats also face difficult mid-term Congressional elections in November amid sagging public support for the war and record troop casualties in Afghanistan will likely only make their task harder.
Few details were immediately available about the crash in Afghanistan's volatile south, the heartland of the Taliban.
U.S. and British troops form the largest contingents in the area. However, there was no immediate indication of the nationality of the dead troops and a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said more information would be released later.
"There are no reports of enemy fire in the area," ISAF said.
One ISAF service member, an Afghan soldier and a U.S. civilian were wounded in the crash and were taken to hospital for treatment, ISAF said in a statement.
The deaths take the toll so far in 2010 to at least 529, according to monitoring website iCasualties.org. Last year, the previous deadliest of the war, 521 foreign troops were killed.