NATO: Seven dead in Afghan plane crash

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Photo / AP
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Photo / AP

A civilian cargo plane crashed shortly after take-off at a huge US-run airbase in Afghanistan on Monday, killing all seven crew members on board, officials said.

Rescue teams rushed to the scene after the plane smashed into the ground inside the boundaries of Bagram airfield, a key transport hub for US-led military operations in Afghanistan.

``All seven of the crew on board died in the accident,'' a spokesman for the NATO military coalition told AFP, adding that there was no reported insurgent activity in the area at the time.

The spokesman said that the flight out of Bagram airbase, 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Kabul, had been operated by the US-based National Air Cargo company.

Aircraft crashes are fairly frequent in Afghanistan, where the 100,000-strong international military mission relies heavily on air transport as it battles the Taliban insurgency across the country.

A NATO plane crashed in the south on Saturday, killing four US service members in another incident that the coalition said was not due to insurgent fire.

The NATO-led mission to Afghanistan is winding down before a deadline at the end of next year when all foreign combat deployments will finish, but airbases such as Bagram still support a huge multi-national military operation.

Afghan police and soldiers are taking over responsibility for fighting the Taliban, but there is growing concern over the war-torn country's prospects after 2014.

In one sign of Afghanistan's difficulties in developing its independence, the New York Times reported Monday that the CIA has delivered tens of millions of dollars in cash to the office of President Hamid Karzai over the last decade.

Karzai confirmed that his office had received some money from the US intelligence agency, saying the funds had been put to good use such as helping sick and wounded Afghans.

The newspaper, citing anonymous officials, said the CIA money had fuelled corruption and funded warlords as the US tries to secure stability in Afghanistan before international troops pull out.

The revelations will add to fears about Afghanistan's progress towards becoming a sovereign country after more than 11 years of international intervention.

Taliban militants have battled the Western-backed government and US-led foreign troops ever since their 1996-2001 government was toppled.

Billions of dollars in aid have been pledged to help Afghanistan after NATO troops withdraw, but only on condition that corruption is brought under control.

- AFP

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