WASHINGTON >> U.S. forces on Tuesday recovered the remains of two American service members killed in the crash of an Air Force plane in Afghanistan, the U.S. military command in Kabul said. They also retrieved what they believe is the plane’s flight data recorder.
They were the only two people aboard the Air Force E-11A electronic surveillance aircraft when it went down on Monday in Ghazni province, officials said. Their identities have not been publicly announced, pending notification of their relatives.
The statement from Kabul said the cause of the crash is under investigation, but there are no indications that it was downed by enemy fire.
The Taliban hold much of Ghazni province. Monday’s plane crash there is not expected to derail U.S.-Taliban peace talks if the crash investigation determines, as expected, that it was not the result of hostile action.
The U.S. and the Taliban are negotiating a reduction in hostilities or a cease-fire to allow the signing of a peace agreement that could bring home an estimated 13,000 American troops and open the way to a broader post-war deal for Afghans.
A journalist in the area, Tariq Ghazniwal, said Monday that he saw the burning aircraft. He told The Associated Press that he saw two bodies and that the front of the aircraft was badly burned but its body and tail were hardly damaged.
The crash site is about 6 miles from a U.S. military base, Ghazniwal said. Local Taliban were deployed to protect the crash site, he said. In its statement Tuesday, the U.S. military command in Kabul thanked local Afghans for treating the remains with respect. It said that after removing the remains, U.S. forces destroyed the remnants of the E-11A aircraft.