Thursday , July 9 2020

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

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

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() 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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