Helicopter Goes Down In Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq Apr 21, 2005 — A commercial helicopter was shot down by missile fire north of the Iraqi capital Thursday, killing 11 people, including six American contractors, officials said.

Bulgaria's Defense Ministry said the helicopter was downed by missile fire and the victims included a three-member Bulgarian crew.

A Toronto-based charter company said there were two bodyguards from Fiji on board, while Bulgaria's Transport Ministry said they were from the Philippines.

The Philippine mission in Baghdad said it had no information that any of its nationals were on the helicopter.

The six Americans worked for security contractor Blackwater USA, the U.S. Embassy said. The North Carolina-based contracting firm provides security for State Department officials in Iraq.

Two U.S. military officials in Baghdad initially said the helicopter was contracted by the Defense Department, but the U.S. Embassy later said that was untrue. It gave no information on the contractor.

It was unclear whether the civilian employees of Blackwater were under contract to the Pentagon or the State Department, U.S. officials in Washington said.