Coalition forces flew sorties over the site of a crashed US military jet in eastern Afghanistan Tuesday, hours after Afghan security forces trying to reach the charred wreckage clashed with Taliban insurgents.
The Bombardier E-11A — used for military communications — went down in snowy Taliban-controlled territory on Monday afternoon.
The Pentagon has confirmed the aircraft belonged to US forces, but dismissed Taliban claims it had been shot down.
US officials have not said how many people were on board at the time, and it remained unclear Tuesday if and how the militants would allow their remains to be recovered.
Ghazni police chief Khaled Wardak said Afghan security forces had been trying to reach the wreckage late Monday when they were ambushed by the Taliban and pushed back.
‘The site of the crash, for now, is being covered by the air force. Some say there are two bodies there, but some people there say there are more,’ Wardak said.
Ghazni police spokesman Ahmad Khan Sirat confirmed the ambush and air presence, adding that at least one person was killed in the fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces.
A local reporter at the scene said that one plane flying above the site fired flares as a crowd gathered nearby.
He said they were told by Taliban militants to leave to avoid being targeted by airstrikes.
Footage from the crash site showed people speaking Pashto walking around the crashed plane, with flames and smoke emanating from the charred fuselage.
What appeared to be at least two bodies could be seen.
Crashes involving military flights, particularly helicopters, are common in Afghanistan where inclement weather and creaky aircraft are often pressed to their limits in the war-torn country.
The crash comes as Washington and the Taliban continue to wrangle over a possible agreement that would see US troops begin to leave Afghanistan in return for security guarantees.
The two sides had been negotiating the deal for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when US president Donald Trump abruptly declared the process ‘dead’, citing Taliban violence.
Taliban sources said earlier this month they had offered to initiate a brief ceasefire of seven to 10 days in a bid to restart the formal negotiations, but there was no announcement of the proposal by either party.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Asia