Thursday , July 9 2020

Afghanistan: Taliban claim they shot down US air force plane – The Guardian,

Spokesman claims high-ranking CIA officers were on plane that crashed in eastern Afghanistan


() Footage purportedly taken from the snowy wreckage site showed the US air force insignia on the charred fuselage. Photograph: AP

A Taliban spokesman claims the group has shot down a US military aircraft over eastern Afghanistan.

The US military said on Monday it was investigating reports of a crash in Taliban-controlled territory.

Footage purportedly taken from the snowy wreckage site showed the US air force insignia on the charred fuselage.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement posted online: “An American invader aircraft has been shot down. Lots of officers have been killed. ”

He claimed high-ranking CIA officers had been onboard the plane. Neither the footage nor his claims could be verified.

In separate comments, Mujahid told the Guardian the purported shoot-down “has no impact” on the ongoing negotiations over the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. “No agreement has been reached yet and Americans are continuing their attacks too.”

Tariq Ghazniwal, a local journalist, said he saw two bodies but others had counted a total of five.

The aircraft in the footage appeared to show a US air force E – Battlefield Airborne Communications Node. It has been described by the air force as “Wi-Fi in the sky”, a roving communications satellite to support missions in remote areas without existing infrastructure.

The Taliban have once been reported to have access to anti-aircraft weapons, including cases where they fired Stinger missilesof the kind supplied to the rebels by the CIA during the s Russian occupation.

In 2020, Taliban fighters were thought to have used a shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missile to shoot down a British Chinook helicopter, killing all onboard.

The Afghan government initially said a passenger jet carrying more than 90 people had crashed, but retracted the claim a few hours later.

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