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US aid helicopter fired at in Pakistan, Pak denies
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November 02, 2005 01:18 IST

A United States army helicopter delivering aid in earthquake-stricken Pakistan apparently came under fire, the US military said on Tuesday. But Pakistan said the blast heard by the pilot was caused by dynamite.

US Central Command said in a statement the CH-47 Chinook helicopter was not hit and returned safely with its crew to Chaklala air base. The statement said the aircraft, "Is believed to have been fired upon by a rocket-propelled grenade,'' but did not identify who fired the weapon.

However, Pakistani army spokesman General Shauket Sultan told CNN a dynamite blast by engineers clearing a road caused the explosion as two US helicopters were flying overhead.

''One helicopter had gone past and there was a dynamite blast on the road and the second helicopter immediately took a turn and it went back,'' Sultan said.

The helicopter was among two dozen sent by the United States after last month's devastating earthquake killed more than 50,000 people in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province and the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. More than 800 US military personnel are helping in the relief operations, the Pentagon said.

'More than 57,000 dead in Pakistan quake'

The Central Command statement said the incident occurred near Chakothi and was under investigation. The Chinook is a twin-engine, tandem-rotor aircraft designed for carrying cargo, troops and weapons.

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