ISLAMABAD/PENTAGON — A United States military plane used to help troops communicate and share intelligence on the battlefield has crashed in a Taliban-controlled region of Afghanistan, U.S. military officials confirmed Monday.
U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, General Dave Goldfein said the plane was an E-11A equipped with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN). Goldfein, speaking at an event in Washington, said he was unable to provide additional details. A spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan later tweeted that there were no indications the plane went down because of enemy fire.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he is also monitoring developments.
"I’m aware of the situation,” he told reporters during a news conference at the Pentagon Monday with French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly.
First word of the crash came on social media in Afghanistan, with reports from locals in Ghazni province. Hours later, the Taliban said in a statement that the plane went down at noon local time, and there were no survivors.
"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 [sic] at crash site,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted in English.
The Taliban are known to inflate casualty numbers and Mujahid offered no evidence for his claims.
Sayed Abdul Wajeed Sadat, the Ghazni provincial head for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society told VOA five people had likely been killed in the crash. The humanitarian assistance organization is one of the few that sometimes gets access to Taliban-controlled areas.
The Red Cross official did not share further details of the crash or whether any of his teams had reached the site.
A local provincial official told VOA’s TV-Ashna other forces have also reached the crash site.
"After an hour, some foreign military helicopters landed to the site inspected the ruined plane and left,” said Abdul Jami Jami, a provincial council member in Ghazni province.
"Afghan security forces also arrived and controlled the site after about four hours the incident,” he added.
VOA's Dari Service contributed to this report.