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Nato dismisses Taliban claim for downing US cargo plane in Afghanistan

A civilian cargo plane owned by a US company crashed soon after takeoff on Monday at Bagram airfield, north of the Afghan capital, killing all seven people on board, the US-led military coalition has said.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for downing the Boeing 747-400, but Nato said in a statement that the Taliban claims were false. The coalition said the cause of the crash was being investigated by emergency crews that rushed to the site, but there was no sign of insurgent activity in the area at the time.

Captain Luca Carniel, a coalition spokesman, said the aircraft crashed from a low altitude right after takeoff.

The plane - owned by National Airlines, a Florida-based subsidiary of National Air Cargo - was carrying vehicles and other cargo, according to the National Air Cargo vice-president, Shirley Kaufman. She said the victims were four pilots, two mechanics and a load master, who is responsible for making sure that the weight and balance of the cargo is appropriate.

"We are not yet releasing the identities of the colleagues we lost out of respect for their families who need a little more time to reach other loved ones," she told AP.

The US National Transportation Safety Board and the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority are investigating the crash, she said.

In a further development, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, accused US forces of killing four civilians and wounding one in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Sunday after an American convoy was attacked by insurgents.

In a statement issued by his office, Karzai "strongly condemned the killing of innocent civilians".

The US-led military coalition said it was still investigating the weekend clash, which left four soldiers with minor injuries and damaged a patrol vehicle. In a statement issued on Monday, the coalition said the Taliban attacked the coalition patrol with small arms fire and roadside bombs as it moved through a local bazaar where there were civilians.

"Coalition forces engaged the enemy, pushed through the hostile area, and travelled to a nearby Afghan national army checkpoint," the coalition said. "An investigation is currently under way to assess whether there are any civilian casualties as a result of insurgent fire."

[Source: The Guardian, Ap, London, 30Apr13]

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small logoThis document has been published on 30Apr13 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.