ISLAMABAD: Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Monday claimed that their militants have shot down a US military aircraft over Ghazni in central Afghanistan, “killing many senior officers of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)”.
The Taliban’s claim, if proved right, may jeopardise the Afghan peace dialogue between the Taliban and the US government with assistance from Pakistan.
The US military has said that it is investigating the crash, and has not yet confirmed the loss of the plane.
“Enemy intelligence aircraft crashed in Sado Khelo area of Deh Yak district #Ghazni noon hours today resulting in all crew & high-ranking CIA members killed. Wreckage & dead bodies laying at crash site,” tweeted Zabihullah Mujahid, using the hashtag of #AlFath, meaning ‘victory’.
Zabihullah said that the aircraft was being used for “surveillance”. He claimed that the bodies of those killed were lying at the site. The US forces are yet to comment on the matter.
Earlier in the day, footage of charred remains of a crashed aircraft emerged online. It appears to be the Bombardier/Northrop Grumman E-11A — a surveillance and communications plane, employed by the US Air Force. The wreckage features distinctive markings used by the US military.
In September 2019, US President Donald Trump had announced to call-off the dialogue process after Taliban insurgents had claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul that killed an American soldier and 11 other people.
The Taliban on January 16 announced a 10-day ceasefire with U.S. troops, a reduction in violence with Afghan forces and discussions with Afghan government officials if it reaches a deal with US negotiators in talks in Doha. If an agreement was sealed between the Taliban and the US, it could have revived a long-term solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.