Taliban claim responsibility for downing US plane in Afghanistan

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This photograph, released by Pajhwok Afghan News, shows the wreckage of a US military aircraft that was reportedly downed by the Afghan Taliban in Ghazni province on Jan. 27, 2020. (Photo courtesy: Pajhwok Afghan News)
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This photograph, released by Pajhwok Afghan News, shows the wreckage of a US military aircraft that was reportedly downed by the Afghan Taliban in Ghazni province on Jan. 27, 2020. (Photo courtesy: Pajhwok Afghan News)
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This photo, released by the Afghan Taliban, shows the wreckage of a US military aircraft they claim to have downed on Jan. 27, 2020. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 January 2020

Taliban claim responsibility for downing US plane in Afghanistan

  • All on board were reportedly killed in the crash in Ghazni province
  • Initial reports suggest aircraft belonged to a private company

KABUL, KARACHI: The Afghan Taliban have claimed responsibility for downing a US military aircraft that crashed in Ghazni province on Monday.
“A special aircraft of the American occupant was flying in the area, for the purpose of an intelligence mission in the Sado Khail region of Deh Yak district of Ghazni province,” said Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. “Our mujahideen have taken down (the aircraft) tactically.”
The statement was accompanied by video footage and photographs of the aircraft and charred bodies. The letters “USAF,” the identifier of the US Air Force, can be clearly seen on the wreckage.
All crew members and passengers, including several senior CIA officers, were killed, Mujahid added, and the wreckage and bodies remain at the crash site. He did not disclose what kind of weapons the group has used to shoot down the plane.
Earlier, Ghazni Governor Waheedullah Kalemzai said the plane crashed outside the government’s area of control.
Kalemzai’s spokesman, Aref Noori, added that the “aircraft belonged to a foreign company and all of the passengers on board were non-Afghans.”
He said: “The plane caught fire. Except for the two pilots, the rest of the bodies cannot be identified, nor can the type of plane be specified.”
The government did not immediately have detailed information about the type and origin of the plane, or how exactly many people were on board, Noori added.
Initial reports had suggested the aircraft belonged to the state-owned Ariana Afghan Airlines. However, the carrier denied this.
Ali Sena, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Transportation, said that no local aviation companies have reported a crash.
US-led NATO forces and foreign firms in Afghanistan sometimes use private aviation companies to transport personnel equipment and goods. The Taliban has on several occasions shot at such aircraft.
The US military has yet to issue a statement and a representative could not be reached for comment.
If the Taliban’s claim of responsibility is confirmed, it may affect the ongoing peace talks in Qatar between the US government and the militant group.


Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

Updated 20 February 2020

Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was ‘shocked, saddened and devastated’ by the tragedy
  • A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns

SYDNEY: An ex-rugby league player is suspected of murdering his three children and estranged wife in Australia by burning them alive inside their car, in what police described as one of the most horrific incidents they have encountered.

Officers said 31-year-old Hannah Clarke died in a Brisbane hospital on Wednesday just hours after her three children aged three, four and six were found dead in the car on a suburban street.

Her husband, Rowan Baxter, who also died, allegedly approached the vehicle and doused it with petrol before setting it alight, The Australian newspaper reported.

The paper said Clarke jumped from the burning car and rolled on the ground, saying “he’s poured petrol on me.”

Officials said she was rushed to hospital with severe burns following the “horrific” incident but later succumbed to her injuries.

Baxter, a 42-year-old former rugby league player for the New Zealand Warriors, was believed to be in the burning vehicle but got out and died on a footpath.

Queensland Police detective inspector Mark Thompson said Thursday that Baxter died as a result of burns and a self-inflicted wound.

“Information that’s to hand has led us to believe that the Baxter children and Hannah Clarke were killed and I don’t believe there’s any suspicious circumstances around the death of Rowan Baxter,” he said.

Clarke’s sister-in-law, Stacey Roberts, set up a fundraiser to pay for funeral costs and support Hannah’s parents, who she said had “exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster.”

“All those who knew Hannah or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was. Her children (were) her life,” Roberts posted on Facebook.

The page has so far raised almost Aus$100,000 ($67,000).

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was “shocked, saddened and devastated” by the tragedy, which has led to an outpouring of grief on social media.

“Hannah and her three children were so senselessly and maddeningly murdered in what has occurred in a terrible act of violence and it just grieves our hearts terribly today,” he said.

Natasha Stott Despoja, a former senator and chair of anti-violence group Our Watch, called for stronger action to address violence against women in Australia, which she described as a “national emergency.”

“I know people want change, people are angry & sad today,” she tweeted. “How long before we stop this slaughter in our suburbs?“

A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said.

The emergency responders who attended the scene have been stood down from their duties and will receive support, he added.