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Seven peacekeepers die in Sinai helicopter crash

A helicopter with the US-led Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Egyptian Sinai has crashed.

The crash occurred on Thursday near the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing seven members of the peacekeeping force.

Those killed were five Americans, a French national and a Czech national, all of them military service members, the MFO said in a statement. It added that one American MFO member survived and was medically evacuated.

An earlier statement had said that eight peacekeepers were killed, including six Americans.

Reuters reported one MFO official, who pleaded anonymity,  as saying it was an accident caused by mechanical failure.

In a tweet, the US Defence Department said its initial report of six service members was incorrect and that five US service members had been killed

and one hospitalised.

The Israeli military said it evacuated the injured peacekeeper to a hospital in Israel.

The MFO was created to monitor the demilitarisation of the Sinai under the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace accord. It has decreased in size in recent years as the neighbouring countries improved security cooperation against Islamist-led Sinai insurgents.

However both Israel and Egypt have, in the past, opposed proposals by Washington to reduce US participation in the MFO, whose website lists some 452 Americans among the force’s 1,154 military personnel.

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