Washington / Kabul (dpa) - A US military plane crashed in Afghanistan. The cause is being investigated, but there is no evidence that the crash of the machine was caused by "enemy fire," said Colonel Sonny Leggett, spokesman for the US Armed Forces in Afghanistan.
At first nothing was known about the whereabouts of the crew. Several hours after the Monday afternoon (local time) crash in Gasni province, the militant Islamist Taliban said they had shot the plane.
After the machine crashed, the situation was initially completely confusing. Local government officials from the Gasni province southwest of Kabul said a passenger plane crashed shortly after 1 p.m. (local time). Local media reported that it was an aircraft belonging to the state airline Ariana Airlines. Ariana Airlines immediately denied it. Neither the civil aviation authority nor the Afghan Ministry of Transport wanted to confirm the crash of a passenger plane.
Local officials said the plane crashed over an area that the Taliban controlled. Several hours after the crash, the extremists said they had shot down the machine. The Taliban said it was a U.S. spy plane on Monday evening (local time).
The plane collected intelligence information in Gasni and crashed in the Deh Jak district. The entire crew died in the process, the Taliban said. The wreck and the bodies were still at the scene of the accident, Taliban spokesman Sabiullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter. The Islamists' statements cannot be verified independently.
After the appearance of videos, the evidence that it could be a plane of the US military increased. The U.S. Armed Forces later confirmed that it was an E-11A. Local officials said the weather was bad.
In the past, the Taliban have repeatedly claimed that military aircraft or helicopters from the US military or the Afghan army crashed. At the same time, the U.S. military and the Afghan Department of Defense are reluctant to confirm kills. They mostly speak of technical problems with the aircraft.
The US and the Taliban are currently discussing a political solution to the more than 18-year conflict. A Taliban spokesman had recently expressed hope that an agreement could be reached by the end of January. Success could allow troops to be withdrawn and pave the way for peace talks within Afghanistan. US President Donald Trump had already broken off talks shortly before a rumored agreement in September after a US soldier was killed in an attack in the capital Kabul. They had resumed in December.
Trump has long pursued the goal of reducing the number of troops in the country. When he visited soldiers there at the end of November, he confirmed that he wanted to reduce the current number of troops from 12,000 to 13,000 to around 8,600.
Video that should show the plane crashed
Defense Blog report
Tweet from Taliban spokesman Mujahideen