Iraq Copter Crash Kills at Least 4

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter was "forced down" today in the north-central Iraqi city of Tikrit, killing at least four soldiers and injuring two, a U.S. military spokesman said, but it was not immediately known whether mechanical failure or hostile fire was involved.

A quick-reaction force was securing the area along the Tigris River about half a mile from a U.S. base, the spokesman said.

The total number of people on board was not known. An Army Web site says the copter can carry 11 troops and a crew of four.

If the incident was caused by insurgent fire, it would be the second time in less than a week that anti-American forces brought down a U.S. helicopter. On Sunday, enemy attackers downed a Chinook transport helicopter, killing 16 soldiers and injuring 26.

White smoke was seen rising from the wreckage and three other choppers were hovering overhead.

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