US forces in helicopters recovered the remains Tuesday of the crew killed when one of its military jets went down in a Taliban-controlled area, hours after Afghan forces trying to reach the wreckage clashed with insurgents.
The Bombardier E-11A -- used for military communications -- went down in a snowy part of eastern Afghanistan on Monday afternoon.
Ghazni police chief Khaled Wardak said US choppers landed at the site in the late afternoon and were reinforced by Afghan security forces on the ground during the operation.
"Following the removal of the bodies, our forces have moved back to their bases. We don't know where the foreigners have taken the bodies," added Wardak.
Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, the head of the provincial council in Ghazni, confirmed the operation, saying the Americans took at least two bodies from the scene.
Earlier in the day, coalition forces flew sorties over the site of the crashed jet with one aircraft firing flares as a crowd gathered nearby, according to a local reporter at the scene.
The Pentagon has confirmed the aircraft belonged to US forces, but dismissed Taliban claims it had been shot down.
US officials have not confirmed or commented on Tuesday's operation or said how many people were onboard the flight when it crashed.
Police chief Wardak said after the plane went down Afghan security forces tried to reach the wreckage late Monday when they were ambushed by the Taliban and pushed back.
Ghazni police spokesman Ahmad Khan Sirat confirmed the ambush, adding that at least one person was killed in the fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces.
Footage from the crash site showed people speaking Pashto walking around the crashed plane, with flames and smoke emanating from the charred fuselage.
What appeared to be at least two bodies could be seen.
Crashes involving military flights, particularly helicopters, are common in Afghanistan where inclement weather and creaky aircraft are often pressed to their limits in the war-torn country.
The crash comes as Washington and the Taliban continue to wrangle over a possible agreement that would see US troops begin to leave Afghanistan in return for security guarantees.
The two sides had been negotiating the deal for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when US President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process "dead", citing Taliban violence.
Taliban sources told AFP earlier this month they had offered to initiate a brief ceasefire of seven to 10 days in a bid to restart the formal negotiations, but there was no announcement of the proposal by either party.