US helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden: All 25 rescued

A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed Monday as it attempted to land on the USS Mesa Verde off the east coast of Africa. Everyone on board was rescued.

REUTERS/Fredy Builes/Files
A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopter hovers above the deck of the USS Kearsarge in 2008. A similar helicopter crashed Monday in the Gulf of Aden but all 25 troops aboard were rescued.

The Navy says a Marine Corps helicopter with 25 aboard has crashed in the Gulf of Aden, but all aboard have been rescued.

The 17 Marines and eight Navy sailors were recovered and are on board the USS Mesa Verde, and some who sustained minor injuries were treated on the ship.

The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed Monday as it attempted to land on the ship, which has a big landing deck on the back. The Navy said the crash was not the result of hostile activity, but the aircraft was transferring troops back to the ship from training in nearby Djibouti.

Djibouti currently hosts the biggest US. military base in Africa at Camp Lemonnier.

Djibouti boosted security since the al-Qaeda-linked militants group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a restaurant in the Horn of Africa nation in May. A Turkish national and several other foreigners were injured in the attack, which was the first suicide bombing in the country’s history.

In June, the US issued a travel warning to American citizens because of “potential terrorist threats.” The British government also advised that al-Shabaab plans to carry out further attacks in Djibouti and may target Western interests, reported Bloomberg.

As The Christian Science Monitor has reported in 2006, "In 2002, more than 1,500 US troops were sent to this former French colony in East Africa to hunt followers of Al Qaeda throughout the region. Now, under General Ghormley, their mission has evolved to preempt the broader growth of Islamic militancy among the area's largely Muslim population.

"We are trying to dry up the recruiting pool for Al Qaeda by showing people the way ahead. We are doing this one village, one person at a time," says Ghormley, commander of the joint task force based in Djibouti. "We're waging peace just as hard as we can."

Previously East Africa has hosted an array of Islamic militant groups. In 1998, Al Qaeda bombed the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing more than 220 people. The group has also tried to shoot down an Israeli airliner in Mombasa, Kenya, and sink oil tankers and US navy vessels in the Red Sea.

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