Ten soldiers have been killed after a military helicopter crashed in eastern Turkey.
Turkey”s defence ministry confirmed that “nine of our heroic comrades” were killed in the incident on Thursday, while a tenth victim died in hospital of their injuries.
Three others were injured after the Cougar-type helicopter crashed in a rural area near the town of Tatvan. The wounded soldiers were being evacuated to hospitals, authorities say.
The aircraft had been on its way to Tatvan from the nearby province of Bingöl when authorities lost contact with it at 14:25 local time (12:25 CET), the ministry said in a statement.
Rescue services were able to locate the scene of the accident using drones, a reconnaissance plane, and another helicopter.
Authorities described the incident as an “accident”, but it wasn’t immediately known what caused the crash.
“Our pain is great,” said Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“We share the deep sorrow of Turkey for the loss of 9 military personnel in Bitlis,” added the EU’s ambassador to Turkey, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut.
“We wish for the speedy recovery of those injured,” he added in a statement.
The crash took place in a predominantly Kurdish-populated province, where Turkish troops have been fighting against militants of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984. The PKK is considered to be a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.
In 2017, a military helicopter, also of the Cougar type, crashed in the province of Sirnak, on the border with Syria and Iraq, killing 13 people.