A U.S. Air Force surveillance plane has crashed in central Afghanistan, a top military official confirmed to reporters Monday.
“It appears we have lost an aircraft,” Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force’s chief of staff, said, per Stars and Stripes. “We don’t know the status of the crew.”
Goldfein also confirmed the aircraft was a Bombardier E-11A, but would not comment on additional details.
The crash occurred at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province. A spokesman for the governor, Arif Noori, claimed reports suggest up to three individuals perished.
Shortly after the crash, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the plane belonged to the U.S. Air Force, but could not be confirmed at the time.
Tariq Ghazniwal, a Taliban-affiliated journalist from the area, said the crash site was about 10 kilometers from a U.S. military base. Local Taliban have been deployed to protect the crash site, he said, and several other militants were combing the nearby village for two people they suspect may have survived the crash.
The Taliban control much of Ghazni province and have total control over the local area of the crash.
Ghazniwal said the site was near a village called Sado Khelo, in the Deh Yak district. He also said the crash occurred soon after 1 p.m. local time, but residents in the area did not report a loud crashing noise. He couldn’t say whether the aircraft had been shot down but “the crash was not loud.”
“A U.S. Bombardier E-11A crashed today in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. While the cause of crash is under investigation, there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire,” USFOR-A Spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett said in a separate statement. “We will provide additional information as it becomes available. Taliban claims that additional aircraft have crashed are false.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.