NATO helicopter crew kills 20 Afghan insurgents

KABUL, Afghanistan—A NATO helicopter crew killed more than 20 insurgents in southern Afghanistan after the men fired on the aircraft, the coalition said Friday.

The group of fighters shot at the helicopter with small arms and machine guns before the crew returned fire, a NATO statement said.

A ground team found 20 bombs, firearms and several vehicles, it said.

The fighting occurred Thursday during an operation to flush out insurgents, said provincial border police chief Abdul Raziq. He said 300 police were deployed alongside NATO troops and that three Afghan police officers died when their car hit a mine.

NATO said initial reports showed there were no civilian casualties during Thursday’s fighting in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province. The coalition tightened its rules of engagement last year after complaints its air raids frequently killed civilians instead of insurgents. Since then, reports of civilian deaths caused by NATO have dropped by a third.

NATO and Afghan forces began pushing into the insurgency’s heartland in southern Afghanistan in July.

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