BAGHDAD, Iraq – A commercial helicopter contracted by the U.S. Defense Department was shot down by missile fire north of the Iraqi capital Thursday, killing six Americans contractors and three Bulgarians, officials said.
The Mi-8 helicopter went down about 12 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. Embassy said. Video on television showed burning wreckage and personal belongings scattered across a wide area.
The helicopter was carrying six Americans who worked for security contractor Blackwater USA, the U.S. Embassy said.
The three crew members were Bulgarians, that nation’s Defense Ministry said.
The helicopter was owned by Bulgaria-based Heli Air and chartered by Toronto-based SkyLink Aviation Inc., said SkyLink air operations manager Paul Greenaway. The helicopter was flying to Tikrit, he said.
Greenaway would not release any details on the victims’ identities.
The Russian-built aircraft was hit by at least one surface-to-air missile, Heli Air sales manager Sotislav Bozhkov said.