Military Plane Crashes In Afghanistan: Six American Airmen Killed, Taliban Claims Credit

Tara Dodrill

A military plane crash in Afghanistan killed six Americans and five civilians. The U.S. Air Force C-130J military transport plane crashed at the Jalalabad air base in the eastern region of the country on Friday. The airfield is approximately 80 miles from the capital in Kabul. The Taliban has claimed credit for the crash.

The U.S. Air Force plane crash happened shortly after midnight Thursday, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing spokesman Major Tony Wickman said. The number of individuals on the ground who were also killed during the military plane crash remains unknown, according to Yahoo News.

Jalalabad is located on a primary route from the Pakistani border region. A strong militant force has been noted in the region near Kabul, where several attacks have occurred in recent years.

The airport is on the major Afghanistan military base, which has also been the focus of attacks several times during the ongoing hostilities with the Taliban. In December 2012, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least five people at the airport.

— VICE News (@vicenews) October 2, 2015

The six U.S. Airmen killed were part of C-130J crew. The passengers on board were civilian contractors attached to the NATO Resolute Support mission operation. The airmen were part of the 774th Expeditionary Air Lift Squadron, which is part of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing. The plane, a Super Hercules, crashed before clearing the Jalalabad air base.

Major Wickman said United States military officials have dismissed the Taliban's claim of credit for the crash.

"It is with high confidence that we can say it does not appear that enemy fire was involved," Major Wickman added.

— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 2, 2015

Few details concerning the crash are available, as an investigation into the tragedy is just beginning.

The Taliban has achieved significant success in Kunduz, according to MSN. The combat actions in the region reportedly amount to the group's largest tactical success since 2001. The forces trained by NATO have been fighting the Taliban primarily on their own since last December.

"Our mujahideen have shot down a four-engine U.S. aircraft in Jalalabad," Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, posted on Twitter. "Based on credible information 15 invading forces and a number of puppet troops were killed."

Residents in the region reportedly stated that explosion and gun fights were still being heard in parts of Kunduz during the late evening hours on Thursday. Bodies of dead Taliban fighters and vehicle debris were reportedly found on the streets. Amnesty International cited statements by civilians in the area to claim that gang rapes, mass murder, and "militant death squads" were being conducted by the Taliban.

The amnesty group also maintained that Taliban militants had created a hit list and were using young boys to carry out house-to-house searches to find their targets. Coalition forces reportedly came under attack by fighters wearing Afghan security uniforms positioned inside homes in Kunduz.

Renewed attacks by the Taliban have reportedly undermined the amount of support President Ashraf Ghani had garnered in Afghanistan. Ghani took office just a little over a year ago. The ongoing attacks have sparked debate over the decision by the Obama administration to remove most U.S. troops from the country in 2016.

There are currently about 1,000 NATO coalition forces in the eastern region of Afghanistan. The military forces include both U.S. and Polish forces and approximately 40,000 Afghan troops. In addition to the coalition and Afghan forces, there are also about 35,000 civilian contractors currently working in various capacities in Afghanistan.

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