Coalition forces fly sorties over US military jet crash site in eastern Afghanistan as Taliban insurgents prevent Afghan forces from trying to reach charred wreckage, officials say.
The United States on Tuesday recovered the remains of individuals from a US military aircraft that crashed in Afghanistan and was in the process of confirming their identities, a US defence official said on Tuesday.
On Monday, the US military said an E-11A aircraft crashed in the province of Ghazni but disputed Taliban claims to have brought it down.
Earlier on Tuesday, Afghan forces and Taliban militants clashed in a central region where the US military aircraft crashed as the government tried to reach the wreckage site in a Taliban stronghold.
The US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said multiple attempts had been made to recover the remains but had been hampered because of the terrain and weather.
The Pentagon declined to comment.
Security forces were sent to the site immediately after receiving a report of the crash in the Deh Yak district, but were ambushed by Taliban fighters, Ghazni provincial police chief Khalid Wardak said.
"As per our information, there are four bodies and two onboard were alive and they are missing," Wardak said, adding that the forces subsequently received an order to retreat and airborne action is to be taken instead.
Later coalition forces flew sorties over the site.
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.
U.S. military confirmed that a Bombardier E-11A aircraft crashed in Afghanistan's Taliban-controlled Ghazni province, but reiterated that there were ‘no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire’ https://t.co/EZQ7rQJCv5 pic.twitter.com/LltIlv9EZy— Reuters (@Reuters) January 27, 2020
Taliban to allow rescue team
Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said Afghan forces backed by US military support had tried to capture the area around the crashed aircraft and clashed with fighters of the insurgent group.
The attempt was repelled, however, he said, but added that the Taliban would allow a rescue team access to recover bodies from the crash site.
"Taliban fighters on the ground counted six bodies at the site of the US aeroplane crash," he said, adding that while there could have been more, the group could not be certain, as fire had reduced everything to ashes.
US denies Taliban downed plane
Speaking on condition of anonymity, US officials said the plane was carrying fewer than five when it crashed, with one official saying initial information showed there were at least two.
The site has not been visited by US officials or any other members of the international force in Afghanistan, but the Taliban claim to have brought down the plane is misleading, a US defence official told Reuters on Tuesday, adding that a preliminary probe showed there was a mechanical error.
The crashed aircraft, built by Bombardier Inc, is used to provide communication capabilities in remote locations.
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 told AFP news agency 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.