TEPYE SHAHEEDAN, Afghanistan (Reuters) -
A cargo airplane plowed into a mountain near the Afghan capital of Kabul on Friday killing all eight of its mostly Russian crew, officials said.
Hours after the crash, a Taliban commander telephoned Reuters saying the Islamist rebels had shot down the plane, but Western military officials said the cause of crash was unknown. Taliban claims of responsibility are often not borne out.
A U.S. military spokesman said the plane was making a short hop from Kabul airport to the U.S. military's air base at Bagram, north of the city, when it crashed.
"It was carrying communications equipment for coalition forces, but it never made it," said Colonel Jerry O'Hara, adding that the aircraft belonged to a private civilian company.The plane was operated by Pakistan's Royal Airlines and belonged to a Georgian company, Interior Ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanezai told Reuters."It had come from Bahrain with some goods for the U.S. forces," he said. "Five of the crew members were Russians, two were Ukranians and one was Pakistani," he added.
Claiming responsibility, Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah described the plane as a combat aircraft.
"We used a new weapon to shoot down the plane," said Dadullah, whose claims have often proved unreliable in the past.
Debris was spread over several hundred metres, and a Reuters reporter at the crash site saw documents in Russian and rouble banknotes inside the wreckage.
"It was a Russian-made civilian cargo plane," Lieutenant Colonel Cristoni Riccardo, a spokesman for the NATO-led peacekeeping mission told Reuters.
The crash occurred in cloudy weather during the morning.
A passenger plane hit a snow-covered mountain southeast of Kabul in February, killing 104 people.Source: Yahoo News