A US Navy Seal was killed and a colleague seriously injured when they collided during an aerial training exercise thousands of feet over the Arizona desert.

Unconfirmed reports claimed last night that both men were members of the elite Seal Team 6, some of whose members were responsible for killing terrorist chief Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

The US Department of Defense said only that the pair belonged to an East Coast Naval Special Warfare Unit, and did not immediately release details of their identities.

The accident occurred on Thursday afternoon during what a department official described as “routine military freefall training” based out of the US Special Operations Command’s parachute testing and training facility at Pinal Airpark, north-east of Tucson. “I don’t know what happened or what caused the accident,” said Lt Cd David McKinney, a Navy spokesman.

Local sheriff’s deputies were despatched to the scene but were escorted off the grounds by military personnel, according to Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

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