Source Pravda.Ru

Shoot down of commercial helicopter: suspected are arrested

The U.S. military said Task Force Baghdad soldiers arrested eight people Saturday whom it suspects of shooting down a commercial &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/accidents/ 21/93/374/15089_helicopter.html ' target=_blank>helicopter Thursday. The military said in a release that an "Iraqi civilian helped Task Force Baghdad soldiers find" eight people, who were being questioned in the crash that resulted in the deaths of 11 people on board.

Six American security contractors, two Bulgarian crew members and two Fijian security guards were killed in the crash.

A Bulgarian crew member who survived the crash was shot to death, according to the Bulgarian company that owned the helicopter. The helicopter was flying from Baghdad to the northern city of Tikrit when it went down just north of the capital.

A news release from Task Force Baghdad said an "Iraqi citizen told the soldiers he knew where the blue Kia pickup truck the terrorists used during the attack was parked and led them to the site, publishes CNN News.

The suspects in the helicopter downing were caught after U.S. soldiers from Task Force Baghdad were tipped off by an Iraqi civilian who told the Americans that he knew where insurgents had stashed a blue KIA pickup truck that was used in the attack and led them to the site, the military said in a statement.

Soldiers searched two nearby houses shortly after midnight Saturday, arresting three men and seizing bomb-making material in the first home. Three suspects were grabbed from the second residence and all were being questioned, the military said.

U.S. forces did not identify the captives or say where they were taken into custody.

The Russian-made Mi-8 helicopter, flying from Baghdad to &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/war/2003/04/04/45640.html ' target=_blank>Tikrit, was shot down about 12 miles north of the capital on Thursday. The dead included six American bodyguards for U.S. diplomats, three Bulgarian crew members and two security guards from Fiji.

Two groups claimed responsibility for the attack and released video to support their claims.

In one video, insurgents are seen capturing and shooting to death the lone survivor, identified as a Bulgarian pilot.

The aircraft was owned by Heli Air of Bulgaria and chartered by Toronto-based SkyLink Aviation Inc. The six Americans were employed by Blackwater Security Consulting a subsidiary of security contractor Blackwater USA of Moyock, N.C. Four of its employees were slain and mutilated by insurgents in Fallujah a year ago.

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