THIS photo provided by a local journalist shows an aircraft that crashed in eastern Afghanistan on Monday.—AP
THIS photo provided by a local journalist shows an aircraft that crashed in eastern Afghanistan on Monday.—AP

KABUL: A plane which US officials described as a small US military aircraft crashed in a Taliban-controlled area of central Afghanistan on Monday, and the insurgent group claimed to have brought it down.

The US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there were no indications so far that the plane had been brought down by enemy activity. One of the officials said there were believed to be fewer than 10 people on board.

Pictures and a video on social media purportedly from the crash site showed what could be the rem­ains of a Bombardier E-11A aircraft.

Footage published by a Taliban-affiliated account showed a person speaking Pashto walking around a crashed plane that looked similar to a craft used by US forces in Afghanistan for communications purposes.

Taliban spokesman claims the plane was brought down by militants

Senior Afghan officials said the authorities had rushed local personnel to locate and identify the wreckage, in a mountainous area partly controlled by the Taliban.

“The plane which was on an intelligence mission, was brought down in Sado Khel area of Deh Yak district of Ghazni province,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban in a statement.

Mujahid did not say how fighters had brought the plane down. He said the crew on board included high-ranking US officers.

A defence official denied that senior American officers were involved.

The Taliban control large parts of Ghazni province.

Civilian airline Ariana Afghan Airlines denied initial reports that it was the owner of the plane.

“It does not belong to Ariana because the two flights managed by Ariana today, from Herat to Kabul and Herat to Delhi, are safe,” said its acting CEO, Mirwais Mirzakwal.

“There is no exact information on casualties and the name of the airline,” Ghazni provincial governor Wahidullah Kaleemzai told private broadcaster Tolo News.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2020