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US Helicopter Down In Iraq, Nine Dead - 2004-01-09


U.S. officials in Iraq say an American military helicopter has gone down near the town of Fallujah, killing all nine soldiers on board.

U.S. military officials say the Black Hawk helicopter was on a routine medical mission when it came down. They say the cause of the crash is under investigation.

Some witnesses said the Black Hawk was on fire before it crashed. Others said the helicopter was hit by a rocket. Fallujah has been a hotbed of anti-coalition insurgent activity, and a military helicopter was shot down there last Friday.

Separately, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed a New York Times report that a 400-member military team, part of a larger group looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has left the country.

The New York Times says some military officials described the withdrawal as a possible signal that the Bush Administration no longer expects to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But Mr. Powell told reporters the larger team, called the Iraqi Survey Group, must be allowed to finish its work. He also defended the administration's assertions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction programs before the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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