The United States Pentagon has released the names of two US Air Force officers killed in a plane crash in the eastern Afghan province of Ghazni earlier this week.
They were identified on Thursday as Lieutenant Colonel Paul K Voss, 46, of Yigo, Guam, and Captain Ryan S Phaneuf, 30, of Hudson, New Hampshire in the US.
The cause of Monday’s crash is under investigation, but officials said there is no indication the plane was downed by hostile action.
“I’m pretty confident there was no enemy action involved. Aircraft mishaps happen,” General Frank McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, told reporters on Wednesday at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia.
“The plane, which was on an intelligence mission, was brought down in Sado Khel area of Deh Yak district of Ghazni province,” said Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid in a statement on Monday.
He did not say how the plane was brought down but said the crew on board included high-ranking US officers.
The armed group, which has been waging a war against US-led forces since 2001, often exaggerates enemy casualty figures.
The remains of the two airmen were recovered from the crash site in Ghazni Province by the US forces on Tuesday.
McKenzie said as far as he knew, the US troops did not meet any resistance while going to the crash site.
“The main resistance was from the weather, which was really significant back there,” he said, adding that “appropriate precautions” were taken in moving the recovery team to the site “because the last thing you want to do is have another mishap or have other people lose their lives in attempt to get up there”.
The incident came as the US and Taliban hold talks about the signing of a peace deal that would end the 18-year war in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has been waging an armed rebellion in Afghanistan since it was toppled from power following the September 2001 attacks in the US.