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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - KABUL, KARACHI: The Afghan Taliban have claimed responsibility for downing a US military aircraft that crashed in Ghazni province on Monday.
“A special aircraft of the American occupant was flying in the area, for the purpose of an intelligence mission in the Sado Khail region of Deh Yak district of Ghazni province,” said Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. “Our mujahideen have taken down (the aircraft) tactically.”
The statement was accompanied by video footage and photographs of the aircraft and charred bodies. The letters “USAF,” the identifier of the US Air Force, can be clearly seen on the wreckage.
All crew members and passengers, including several senior CIA officers, were killed, Mujahid added, and the wreckage and bodies remain at the crash site. He did not disclose what kind of weapons the group has used to shoot down the plane.
Earlier, Ghazni Governor Waheedullah Kalemzai said the plane crashed outside the government’s area of control.
Kalemzai’s spokesman, Aref Noori, added that the “aircraft belonged to a foreign company and all of the passengers on board were non-Afghans.”
He said: “The plane caught fire. Except for the two pilots, the rest of the bodies cannot be identified, nor can the type of plane be specified.”
The government did not immediately have detailed information about the type and origin of the plane, or how exactly many people were on board, Noori added.
Initial reports had suggested the aircraft belonged to the state-owned Ariana Afghan Airlines. However, the carrier denied this.
Ali Sena, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Transportation, said that no local aviation companies have reported a crash.
US-led NATO forces and foreign firms in Afghanistan sometimes use private aviation companies to transport personnel equipment and goods. The Taliban has on several occasions shot at such aircraft.
The US military has yet to issue a statement and a representative could not be reached for comment.
If the Taliban’s claim of responsibility is confirmed, it may affect the ongoing peace talks in Qatar between the US government and the militant group.
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