The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, said Wednesday that a precision air strike by coalition forces killed several Taliban militants, including the insurgent who fired the fatal shot at the helicopter. Taliban officials on Thursday denied that the militant responsible for the crash was killed, saying the fighter is “busy conducting jihad elsewhere.”
The crash last Saturday killed 17 Navy SEALS, five Navy special operations troops, three Air Force special operations personnel, and five members of the Army. Previous reports said that 22 SEALS were killed.
Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta released the names of the American service members killed in the crash. Officers at U.S. Special Operations Command objected to announcing the names because of security concerns.
A probe is under way to review the circumstances of the helicopter crash. General Allen said a rocket-propelled grenade was at least partly to blame, but said small arms fire also may have played a role.