US army investigating plane crash in Taliban-held area

Afghan National Army forces go towards the site of an airplane crash in Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, Afghanistan January 27, 2020. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 27 January 2020

US army investigating plane crash in Taliban-held area

  • The Taliban said it had shot down a US military plane
  • US officials said they were still investigating the cause of the crash

KABUL: A US military aircraft crashed in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, a Taliban spokesman and Afghan journalist affiliated with the militant group said.
Tariq Ghazniwal, a journalist in the area, said that he saw the burning aircraft. In an exchange on Twitter, he told The Associated Press that he saw two bodies and the front of the aircraft was badly burned. He added that aircraft's body and tail were hardly damaged. His information could not be independently verified.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said a US airforce plane crashed in the Ghazni province. He claimed the crash killed “lots" of US service members. The militant group often exaggerates casualty figures.
Ghazniwal said the crash site was about 10 kilometers from a US military base.
US Army Maj. Beth Riordan, a spokeswoman for US Central Command, declined to comment when told about the Taliban claim. She earlier acknowledged American military officials were investigating reports of a crash in Afghanistan. She said that it remained unclear whose aircraft was involved in the crash.
Riordan declined to immediately comment further.
However, pictures on social media purportedly from the crash site showed what could be the remains of a Bombardier E-11A aircraft, which the US military uses for electronic surveillance over Afghanistan.
Images on social media purportedly of the crashed plane showed an aircraft bearing US Air Force markings similar to other E-11A surveillance aircraft photographed by aviation enthusiasts. Visible registration numbers on the plane also appeared to match those aircraft.
The so-called Battlefield Airborne Communications Node can be carried on unmanned or crewed aircraft like the E-11A. It is used by the military to extend the range of radio signals and can be used to convert the output of one device to another, such as connecting a radio to a telephone.
Colloquially referred to by the US military as “Wi-Fi in the sky,” the BACN system is used in areas where communications are otherwise difficult, elevating signals above obstacles like mountains. The system is in regular use in Afghanistan.
Local Afghan officials had said earlier on Monday that a passenger place from Afghanistan's Ariana Airlines had crashed in the Taliban-held area of the eastern Ghazni province. However, Ariana Airlines told The Associated Press that none of its planes had crashed in Afghanistan.
The conflicting accounts could not immediately be reconciled. The number of people on board and their fate was not immediately known, nor was the cause of the crash.
Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the plane went down around 1:10 pm local time (8:40 am GMT) in Deh Yak district, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of the capital Kabul. He said the crash site is in territory controlled by the Taliban. Two provincial council members also confirmed the crash.
But the acting director for Ariana Airlines, Mirwais Mirzakwal, dismissed reports that one the company's aircraft had crashed. The state-owned airline also released a statement on its website saying all its aircraft were operational and safe.
The mountainous Ghazni province sits in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains and is bitterly cold in winter. The Taliban currently control or hold sway over around half the country.
The last major commercial air crash in Afghanistan occurred in 2005, when a Kam Air flight from the western city of Herat to Kabul crashed into the mountains as it tried to land in snowy weather.
The war, however, has seen a number of deadly crashes of military aircraft. One of the most spectacular occurred in 2013 when an American Boeing 747 cargo jet crashed shortly after takeoff from Bagram airbase north of Kabul en route to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. All seven crew member were killed. The US National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that large military vehicles were inadequately secured and had shifted during flight, causing damage to the control systems that "rendered the airplane uncontrollable."


Suicide bomber kills 2, including prayer leader, at mosque in Kabul’s Green Zone

Updated 02 June 2020

Suicide bomber kills 2, including prayer leader, at mosque in Kabul’s Green Zone

  • Tuesdays attack comes just days after a bomb blast in the north of the country killed seven civilians
  • Violence across Afghanistan has dropped since Eid, with tentative steps being made toward prisoner exchanges between the Taliban and government

KABUL: A bomb exploded inside a mosque in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday, killing two people, including the mosque's prayer leader, and wounding two others an official said.
Tariq Arian, spokesman for Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, said the bomb targeted the Wazir Akber Khan Mosque at around 7:25 p.m., when worshippers had gathered for evening prayers. The mosque is located in a high-security diplomatic area near the offices of several international organizations and embassies.
Mullah Mohammad Ayaz Niazi was one of two people killed in the attack, Arian said. He was wounded in the attack and died later at a hospital.
Niazi was a well known cleric who was active as Friday prayer leader at the mosque. He was also a Kabul University professor in the Islamic Law department.
Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted that the government strongly condemned the attack, saying it “reveals the brutality and inhumanity of those who purposefully perpetrate violence against our Ulema and innocent people.”
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State group has been active in Kabul in recent weeks and has in the past carried out attacks inside mosques in Afghanistan.
Taliban insurgents have never carried out an attack inside of a mosque.
The IS claimed responsibility for the roadside bomb attack against a bus belonging to a local TV station in Kabul on Saturday, killing two employees of the station.
Attacks against worshippers have increased in Afghanistan: Last month, an unknown number of attackers stormed a mosque in northern Parwan province, killed 11 worshipers and wounded several others.