The Taliban claimed early Friday that its jihadis were responsible for shooting down an American C-130 Hercules airplane, according to reports. Initial reports stated that at least 10 people were killed when the US plane crashed at an airport in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
“Our mujahideen have shot down a four-engine US aircraft in Jalalabad,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter. “Based on credible information 15 invading forces and a number of puppet troops were killed,” he added.
Six United States troops were killed when the plane crashed at the eastern Afghanistan airport, U.S. officials said. No details have been released by the U.S. or NATO related to the cause of the crash.
“The crew and passengers were killed,” Army Col Brian Tribus said in a statement, adding that five civilian military contractors were killed in the crash. He said that the contractors were engaging in operation “Resolute Support,” a NATO initiative in Afghanistan.
The Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules is a turboprop military plane that was first introduced in 1954. Its primary mission entails transporting troops and cargo, although the aircraft has been converted into a gunship and has been used for other civilian operations. The transport aircraft is known for its durability and reliability, often taking off and landing in hostile conditions.
The last time Taliban terrorists successfully took down a U.S. military plane was in 2011, when the jihadis shot down a U.S. Chinook helicopter, resulting in the deaths of 38 U.S. soldiers.
The Taliban’s unconfirmed claim that it shot down the U.S. military plane comes as the militant jihadi group has continued a relatively unchecked offensive throughout Afghanistan. On Thursday, the insurgent group successfully took over the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.
Since President Obama declared an end to the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of last year, there has been a surge in Taliban violence.
The eastern province of Nangarhar, where the Taliban claims it shot down the transport plane, is located along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and is a known hotbed for terrorist activities.
Throughout the course of the ongoing 14-year-old U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, most insurgent activity has been concentrated in provinces in and around the Pakistan border.
Both the Taliban and its rival Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) maintain a presence in the province. The two groups are competing for territory and influence.
Violent clashes between the two groups have erupted in Nangarhar, where self-styled ISIS fighters have managed to push the Taliban out of certain districts in recent months. Nangarhar’s police chief has revealed that fighting between the two groups has resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people.
In January, ISIS announced the establishment of its Khorasan Province. Khorasan is an ancient name for an area that covers Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and other surrounding countries.
And since ISIS declared that Afghanistan and Pakistan were part of its “Khorasan Province,” Nangarhar has seen a surge in ISIS and the Taliban are fighting each other for control of the illicit opium trade in the region, according to the United Nations.