Aircraft crashes in central Afghan province

KABUL (Reuters) – An aircraft crashed in central Afghanistan on Monday and authorities were trying to locate the wreckage in a mountainous area which is partly controlled by the Taliban, officials said.

Two officials from Ghazni province said the crashed aircraft appeared to belong to a foreign company, and not to state-owned Ariana Afghan Airlines as officials had previously believed.

“There is no exact information on casualties and name of the airline,” Ghazni provincial governor Wahidullah Kaleemzai told private broadcaster TOLOnews.

Dozens of private entities operate planes and helicopters across Afghanistan to move military contractors and aid.

A senior defense official in Kabul said no U.S. or NATO forces’ flight had crashed.

Earlier, three government officials said the plane was operated by Ariana Afghan Airlines, but its acting CEO Mirwais Mirzakwal denied those reports.

“It does not belong to Ariana because the two flights managed by Ariana today from Herat to Kabul and Herat to Delhi are safe,” Mirzakwal told Reuters.

A senior official in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office in Kabul said an aircraft had crashed near Ghazni province and authorities were still seeking details from the site in the Sado Khel area of Deh Yak district of Ghazni province about 1:10 p.m. local time (0840 GMT).

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group was checking on reports of the plane crash.

Additional reporting by Rupam Jain, Editing by Alexandra Ulmer and Angus MacSwan

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