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Military helicopter crashes in emergency zone of northeast Nigeria, no survivors: witnesses

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YOLA, Nigeria — A military helicopter crashed and exploded next to a college dormitory in northeast Nigeria, the zone where troops are fighting an Islamic insurgency, the military and witnesses said Friday. All three crew members died, the military said.

Four days ago, the military reported a helicopter safely crash-landed minutes after take-off from Yola International Airport in Adamawa state. Last month Boko Haram Islamic extremists said they shot down a fighter jet and published video showing the beheading of a man friends identified as a Nigerian Air Force pilot. The military said a jet went missing Sept. 11 with two crew.

The United States said Wednesday it had refused to sell Nigeria attack helicopters because of concerns about its ability to use and maintain the aircraft, as well as the military's failure to protect civilians in the 5-year-old Islamic uprising that has claimed the lives of thousands.

A military statement said the ground attack helicopter on an armed patrol crashed around 10 p.m. Thursday in "the ill-fated accident."

Witness Habu Mallam said the helicopter fell in a ball of fire near a dorm at Moddibo Adama University of Technology.

A student who identified himself only as Daniel said he saw two helicopters hovering before one stalled and fell out of the sky with a loud explosion that frightened students out of their beds.

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Faul reported from Johannesburg. Bashir Adigun contributed to this report from Abuja, Nigeria.

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