Two Iraqi insurgent groups claim downing of US helicopter securing American diplomatic convoy Tuesday and deaths of 5 US civilian contractors
An Iraqi official said the helicopter was hit by a machine gunner over the Fadhil neighborhood of Baghdad, while a US official said that this was not indicated.
The five victims were employed by the North Carolina-based Blackwater US company which also owned the stricken aircraft. Wednesday, US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad offered condolences for the five Americans killed, saying he had traveled with them. The helicopter was thought to have been flying escort over a VIP convoy on the ground heading out of the Green Zone.
The 1920 Revolution Brigades insurgent group, whose leader was killed in Balad last week, claimed its men had shot down the helicopter and showed the burning wreckage on a cell phone video. But the al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sunnah which claimed the same attack posted identity cards of men on the helicopter. One was identified as Arthur Laguna, a 52-year-old pilot for Blackwater.