The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Pervez escort copter crashes, 4 killed

Ghori (Pakistan), Oct. 8 (Reuters): An army helicopter escorting President Pervez Musharraf crashed in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir today, killing four people, including two commandos from his security detail, an army spokesman said.

Musharraf, who polled most votes in a presidential election on Saturday, was visiting Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir to mark the second anniversary of an earthquake in the region. The stricken helicopter, carrying a dozen people, was following Musharraf's.

“It took off after President Musharraf left,” army spokesman Major-General Waheed Arshad said. “The President is safe and sound. He has reached his destination.” The President’s spokesman, retired Major-General Rashid Qureshi, was among eight injured in the crash, Arshad said.

The four killed included a brigadier, the two commandos and a cameraman from a state-run television channel.

“The engine backed up and because of that it immediately went down,” Arshad said. “The pilot made a crash landing. Once he did that the rear portion of the helicopter caught fire.” Arshad said there would be an inquiry, but he doubted whether the helicopter had been sabotaged or attacked, as it would have been more likely to have exploded in the air.

US ally Musharraf has survived at least three assassination attempts by al Qaida linked militants. The most recent was last July, when assassins tried to shoot down his airplane after it took off from Rawalpindi. The plane was well out of range.

A man in Ghori village said he saw the helicopter trailing smoke as it flew low over the village in a valley 18 km south of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir. “It was a great effort by the pilot because it was flying low over the houses. The pilot took it to a field,” Khateeb Gardezi . “I saw General Rashid Qureshi and several other soldiers jumping from a height of three to four metres.

“It crashed with a deafening bang. I and another villager tried to help the soldiers. General Qureshi was slightly wounded.”

Fierce fighting

The army said today that up to 50 soldiers were missing after fierce fighting with pro-Taliban militants over the weekend in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Sixty-five militants and 20 soldiers were killed in the clashes around Mir Ali, a town known as an al Qaida haunt, on Saturday and yesterday, and there were more exchanges of fire on Monday.

Email This Page