Ghazni, Afghanistan: US forces on Tuesday recovered two bodies near the wreckage of a military jet that crashed in a Taliban-controlled area of eastern Afghanistan, after Afghan forces trying to reach the scene clashed with insurgents.
The Bombardier E-11A — used for battlefield communications — went down in a snowy area on Monday.
“US forces recovered the remains of two personnel from the site,” the US military said in a statement.
“The remains were found near the crash site, treated with dignity and respect by the local Afghan community, in accordance with their culture,” the statement said.
The remains of the plane were destroyed by US forces, it added, noting that the flight data recorder was recovered for analysis, as the investigation into the crash continues.
“There are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire,” the US military reiterated.
Ghazni police chief Khaled Wardak said US helicopters landed at the site in the late afternoon and were reinforced by Afghan security forces on the ground during the operation.
“Following the removal of the bodies, our forces have moved back to their bases,” added Wardak.
Earlier in the day, coalition forces flew sorties over the site of the crashed jet with one aircraft firing flares as a crowd gathered nearby, according to a local reporter at the scene.
Wardak said that after the plane went down, Afghan security forces tried to reach the wreckage late Monday when they were ambushed by the Taliban and pushed back.
Ghazni police spokesman Ahmad Khan Sirat confirmed the ambush, adding that at least one person was killed in the fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces.
Crashes involving military flights, particularly helicopters, are common in Afghanistan, where inclement weather and creaky aircraft are often pressed to their limits in the war-torn country — and where insurgents have been known to target helicopters.
The crash comes as Washington and the Taliban continue to wrangle over a possible agreement that would see US troops begin to leave Afghanistan in return for security guarantees.
The two sides had been negotiating the deal for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when US President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process “dead”, citing Taliban violence.
Taliban sources told AFP earlier this month they had offered to initiate a ceasefire of seven to 10 days in a bid to restart the formal negotiations, but there was no announcement of the proposal by either party.