Ghazni Province, Afghanistan – The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the downing of a US Bombardier Global Express E-11A electronic warfare jet while it was flying over Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province, on what has been described as an intelligence mission.
The shootdown happened on Monday and it took place in the Taliban-controlled Sado Khel area of the Deh Yak district in Ghazni Province, in central-eastern Afghanistan, the militant group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed stated in a message via WhatsApp.
“A special American aircraft which was flying over Afghanistan for an intelligence mission was tactically shot down by the Taliban,” Mujahed said. “All on board including high-ranking CIA officers were killed.”
Tariq Ghazniwal, a journalist in the area, told The Associated Press(which claims the downing was actually a “crash”) that the Taliban suspect two passengers may have survived the crash and that the militants were searching a nearby village to capture them.
There have been conflicting claims on the incident — first, it was reported to have been a passenger plane en route from Dubai, and later a USAF aircraft. The video of the crash scene shows that the aircraft serial was 11-9358, msn 9358. It had first flown in 2009. The aircraft was operated by the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron in the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node role.
According to Avia.pro, a transport helicopter dispatched to the site of the downed US Air Force jet was also shot down by the Taliban. It is estimated that 7-11 US Rangers on board were also killed. It’s unclear exactly how many casualties occurred in both incidents, but Avia.pro states there could be as many as 34 US personnel killed in just one day.
How exactly the helicopter was shot down is still unclear, however, Taliban sources claim that, unlike the destroyed jet, the rotorcraft was shot down by an anti-aircraft gun. It is alleged that the militants ambushed the US troops, knowing that the latter will head to the place of the downed plane.
Pentagon officials refuse to comment on the loss of both aircraft, as well as the deaths of several dozen military personnel, which obviously indicates a serious blow to Washington’s reputation in the region. According to some experts, this is the worst US loss in Afghanistan since 2001 because the Taliban managed to destroy one plane, one helicopter, and kill at least 34 US troops in just one day.