15 police offers dead in Colombia helicopter crash

Handout picture from the Colombian Police shows smoke billowing from the site where a Blackhawk helicopter went down, killing 15 officers during an operation in Carepa, Antioquia department, Colombia on August 4, 2015. AFP
Fifteen police were killed Tuesday in Colombia when a helicopter taking part in an anti-drug trafficking operation crashed in a remote jungle-covered region, the national police force said.
A total of 17 officers were on board the Blackhawk helicopter, which was involved in an operation against the powerful Clan Usuga drug gang in northwestern Colombia\’s Antioquia department, said a police statement.
The other two officers were injured and taken to a hospital in the town of Apartado, it said.
Preliminary investigations indicate the crash was caused by mechanical failure, but specialists will carry out a detailed analysis, said the statement.
Clan Usuga is the main drug gang in Colombia, the world\’s leading producer of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine.
President Juan Manuel Santos\’s government has intensified its offensive against the gang in recent months.
A UN report recently found coca cultivation in Colombia expanded 44 percent last year to 69,000 hectares (170,000 acres), yielding potential cocaine production of 442 tonnes — a 52-percent increase from 2013.
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