"The helicopter in which the men were travelling is believed to have been from AAC 657 Squadron, a unit based at RAF Odiham which provides support and transport for special forces troops."
London, May 7 - The body of a Royal Air Force - officer of Indian-origin, who died last month in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, has been brought to Britain, media reported Wednesday.

Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, 29, died when the Lynx helicopter came down in Kandahar province, in southern Afghanistan, killing all five on board.

The intelligence officer from Britain's Leicestershire, known simply as Rak to friends and family, lost his life alongside Intelligence Corps colleague Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas April 26.

Both were believed to have been passengers in the helicopter, whose three-member crew - Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters of the Army Air Corps -- also died.

Chauhan's father Kishor, mother Jyoti and his older brother Kesh, 31, took part in a private ceremony held for close relatives after the bodies reached RAF Brize Norton station in Carterton town in Britain's Oxfordshire Tuesday.

More than 1,000 mourners -- including service personnel, school children and relatives -- lined the streets to pay their respects as the solemn procession passed the base's Memorial Garden, the report said.

The crowds then applauded as the coffins, each draped in a Union flag, were driven away to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

It was a very sad occasion but then it always is, the Leicester Mercury quoted Carterton mayor Lynn Little as saying.

We are proud of our service families and serving personnel. When something tragic like this happens, the least we can do is support them on a day like today, Little added.

Chauhan's family owns a shop named 'Milan's Sarees' in Belgrave area in Leicester.

The community united behind the young servicemen's family at the weekend, when more than a 1,000 people gathered at the Gujurat Arya Association Community Centre in London to pay their respects.

Chauhan, who was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, was based at RAF Odiham station in Hampshire.

Meanwhile, Britain's ministry of defence - has denied claims by the Taliban that insurgents shot the helicopter down, with initial investigations indicating a tragic accident rather than enemy action as the cause of the crash.

The helicopter in which the men were travelling is believed to have been from AAC 657 Squadron, a unit based at RAF Odiham which provides support and transport for special forces troops.

The chopper went down in the Takhta Pul district of Kandahar, in what was the worst incident involving a British military helicopter in Afghanistan since the war began there in 2001, the report said.


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