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NATO helicopter crash leaves 6 dead

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A NATO helicopter crashed in the south yesterday, killing six members of the international military force, the U.S.-led coalition said.

The coalition said early today that there was no enemy activity in the area at the time. It did not disclose the nationalities of those killed.

Earlier in the day, seven civilians were killed outside a crowded gate at Kandahar Air Field after a suicide attacker set off a vehicle laden with explosives. The Taliban claimed responsibility, claiming they were targeting a NATO convoy.

It was the second suicide bombing in as many days in southern Afghanistan, officials said. The coalition said no NATO troops were killed. It does not disclose information about injured troops.

Separately, Afghan authorities reported that avalanches have killed 29 people in the mountainous northeast.

In the airport bombing, two witnesses told The Associated Press that they suspect the suicide attacker was trying to hit U.S. forces because he detonated his explosives just as two pickup trucks, often used by American special forces, were leaving the base.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef said NATO forces opened fire after the bombing, and that they killed three of the seven civilians who died. The coalition denied that, saying there was no fighting after the blast.

It was first reported that the suicide bomber was walking near the gate, but the Afghan Ministry of Interior said the attacker was driving a Toyota Corolla.

Zalmai Ayubi, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, said two children were among the seven civilians killed. He said eight other civilians, including two children and one woman, were injured.

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