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.


Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

Updated 12 July 2020

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

  • Exercise being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory

HONG KONG: Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang last week that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law, because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.
Organizers have dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order Internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, a co-organizer of the primary elections. The computer system was suspected of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the pro-Beijing camp.
To hold the primary elections, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd funding. They pledged to veto the government’s budget if they clinch a majority in the legislature. Under the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong is governed, city leader Carrie Lam must resign if an important bill such as the budget is vetoed twice.
On Saturday alone, nearly 230,000 people voted at polling booths set up across the city, exceeding organizers’ estimates of a 170,000 turnout over the weekend.