Chopper escorting Musharraf crashes

Updated: 2007-10-08 16:42

Muzaffarabad - One of three helicopters escorting Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf crashed in Pakistan's portion of Kashmir on Monday, killing four soldiers on board, officials said. An official said technical problems were to blame for the incident.

Musharraf had reached his destination, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad told Dawn News TV.

Abbas Gardezi, a local journalist, said he saw an army helicopter crash about 12 miles south of Muzaffarabad, the main town in Pakistan's portion of the disputed Himalayan territory.

He said when the chopper hit the ground, there was an explosion and it was entirely burned.

A senior army official speaking on condition of anonymity because was not authorized to comment to media said the helicopter was one of three taking Musharraf to Muzaffarabad for commemorations of the second anniversary of Oct. 7, 2005, earthquake that killed nearly 80,000 people.

On Saturday, Musharraf swept a presidential election by lawmakers. He has to wait for a Supreme Court ruling on his eligibility for office to find out whether he will win a new five-year term.

Arshad only said an army helicopter made a crash landing due to a technical fault while en route to Muzaffarabad. "Four troops died and some were injured," he said.

Arshad said the president had reached some other area when the chopper went down. He declined to say how close Musharraf had been to the crash.

"The president was in some other chopper and he safely reached where he had to go," he said.

Arshad said officials were still checking details on the identity of the dead and injured.

The president's spokesman, Rashid Qureshi, was among several passengers on the chopper who were injured, a senior government official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak on the matter. An intelligence official confirmed that Qureshi was injured. Neither official had details on Qureshi's condition.

Security was tight in Muzaffarabad on Monday morning, restricting residents movement around the city, apparently in anticipation of the arrival of a VIP visitor.

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