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US Air Force plane crashes in Afghanistan; Pentagon denies enemy fire but Taliban claims they shot it down

The E-11A is a U.S. Air Force aircraft that provides unparalleled communications capabilities to coalition forces on the ground and aircraft in the air. Commonly known as Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, this aircraft extends the range of communications channels and enables better communication amongst units. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Gonsier)
January 27, 2020

A U.S. Air Force E-11 plane crashed in Afghanistan on Monday, and at least two pilots were discovered dead, according to reports. The Taliban claimed to have shot down the plane, but the Pentagon has deni

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett confirmed the crash in a statement to American Military News on Monday afternoon. “A U.S. Bombardier E-11A crashed today in Ghazni province, Afghanistan.  While the cause of crash is under investigation, there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire.  We will provide additional information as it becomes available.  Taliban claims that additional aircraft have crashed are false,” Leggett said.

Four-star Air Force Gen. David Goldfein also confirmed the crash while at a Center for a New American Security event. “It appears we have lost an aircraft. We don’t know the status of the crew,” he said, according to Military.com.

Goldfein confirmed that the plane was an E-11, but could not say whether or not the crash was the result of enemy fire. He added that the incident is under investigation.

Afghanistan government spokesperson Arif Noori confirmed the plane was flying between Kandahar province and Kabul when it went down in the Taliban-controlled Ghazni province south of Kabul, CBS News reported.

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Noori added that two pilots were found dead in the wreckage, but no U.S. officials have confirmed such details.

A U.S. military official confirmed to CBS News only that the plane had crashed and was under investigation. The official did not comment on crew members aboard.

U.S. CENTCOM spokeswoman U.S. Army Maj. Beth Riordan also confirmed to the Associated Press that the plane had crashed and was under investigation.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said a plane belonging to the U.S. Air Force had crashed and killed “lots” of U.S. troops. Mujahid added that the Taliban was responsible for shooting down the aircraft.

“The plane, which was on an intelligence mission, was brought down in Sado Khel area of Deh Yak district of Ghazni province,” Mujahid said, as reported by Reuters.

Local Afghanistan journalist Tariq Ghazniwal told the AP he witnessed the plane on fire and also saw the burned remains of two pilots in the cockpit, though his claims could not be verified.

Ghazniwal posted a video purportedly of the crash scene with an active fire burning in the plane’s wreckage, though the video cannot be verified for authenticity.

Other unconfirmed photos and video posted to social media appeared to show the burned wreckage of a U.S. Air Force E-11 bearing the U.S. Air Force insignia on its tail, though such posts could not be verified for authenticity.

Additional photos and videos from Iran’s Fars News Agency also showed the wreckage of a U.S. Air Force plane appearing to be an E-11, but the footage has not been verified.

Afghanistan officials first said that the crash involved an Ariana Airlines passenger plane, however, the airline rejected those claims, saying that none of its aircraft had crashed.

Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Authority also said it has not received any reports of a passenger jet crash.

This article has been updated to include the most up-to-date information available, including the Col. Leggett’s statement.