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Plane crashes in eastern Afghanistan

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Afghanistan

A plane crashed in eastern Afghanistan’s Ghazni province Monday, officials said, but it was not immediately clear how many people were on board, or if it was a passenger or military jet.

“At around 1:10 pm (0840 GMT) a plane crashed in Deh Yak district of Ghazni province. The plane is on fire and the villagers are trying to put it out. We still don’t know if it is a military or commercial plane,” Aref Noori, Ghazni’s governor’s spokesman, told AFP.

A police spokesman in the province also confirmed the crash but was also unable to identify the craft.

Large swathes of rural areas in Ghazni province are controlled or under the influence of Taliban militants, making access difficult for officials.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said they were investigating the crash claims but were unable to comment further.

Social media was rife with suggestions that the plane was from state-owned Ariana Afghan Airlines — however, the company said the rumours were “not true”.

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“All the flights of Ariana Afghan Airlines have been completed normally,” a statement on the carrier’s verified Facebook page read.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Afghanistan also denied reports that the plane was a commercial flight.

“According to our information from the Control Tower and Traffic Regulatory Authority, no commercial airline crash has been recorded. And Ariana Afghan Airlines have reassured us that all their planes are accounted for,” said the organisation.

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 last civilian flight to crash was in May 2010, when an ageing Pamir Airways plane went down in bad weather during a scheduled flight to Kabul from the northern province of Kunduz.

It was carrying six crew and 38 passengers when it crashed into a mountainside 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Kabul.

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