KABUL, Afghanistan -- Six foreign troops were killed in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday when an aircraft crashed, according to the International Security Assistance Force.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led force declined to give the nationality of those killed in line with its policy, although some media reported they were Americans.

The coalition added that there was no fighting in the area at the time of the crash, suggesting it was an accident, and said the cause was under investigation.

Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, deputy governor of southern Zabol province, said that the aircraft crashed Tuesday afternoon in Shahjoy district.

“The cause of the crash isn’t immediately clear, and we still don't know whether the aircraft belonged to the Americans or not,” he added.

Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the crash in a statement on their website.

“Today at around 3:00 p.m., the mujahideen shot down an invaders helicopter in Ibrahimkhail area, Shahjoy district of Zabol province while flying low, killing eight invaders,” the statement said.

With foreign combat troops set to leave Afghanistan in late 2014, Afghan forces are taking increasing responsibility for their nation’s defense. But most aircraft in the country are still operated by NATO, and it does not appear that Afghanistan’s air force will see a significant increase in capability anytime soon.

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Twitter: @MarkMagnier

mark.magnier@latimes.com

Special correspondent Baktash reported from Kabul and staff writer Magnier from New Delhi.