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Taliban shoots down U.S. helicopter, killing dozens of U.S. soldiers

And then there was this additional bad news early Saturday morning: 31 Americans -- including more than 20 Navy SEALs -- were killed when Taliban forces shot down their helicopter in Afghanistan.

A senior defense official says that the team was "on their way to a mission" when their helicopter was shot down in Wardak Province this morning. The official was not sure whether they had just taken off, or if they had already been in the air for several minutes when they went down though.

"It appears that it was shot down," the official said, adding that it is obviously still being investigated.

The official said that the military does "not have any indication that it was anything other than" hostile fire that brought down the helicopter.

The casualty breakdown:
31 Americans killed, including:
-- as many as 20 Navy SEALS
-- five Army air crew
-- several U.S. airmen
-- one dog

8 Afghans killed:
-- seven Afghan troops
- one Afghan interpreter (civilian)

The Associated Press reports that the SEALs were part of SEAL Team Six, the unit that carried out the raid killing Osama bin Laden, but the AP adds that none of those killed in the crash "is believed to have been part of the SEALs mission that killed bin Laden."

President Obama issued this statement on the tragedy in Afghanistan:

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the Americans who were lost earlier today in Afghanistan. Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan. We will draw inspiration from their lives, and continue the work of securing our country and standing up for the values that they embodied.  We also mourn the Afghans who died alongside our troops in pursuit of a more peaceful and hopeful future for their country. At this difficult hour, all Americans are united in support of our men and women in uniform who serve so that we can live in freedom and security.