KABUL, Afghanistan -- Six U.S. service members and five contractors were killed in a C-130 crash at Jalalabad Airport in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said late Thursday.
The crash, which occurred just after midnight Friday Afghanistan time, involved a C-130J assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, which is part of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.
The airport at Jalalabad, located about 100 miles east of Kabul, is used only for military and United Nations flights.
In a post online, the Taliban claimed they had shot down the aircraft, killing 15 "invaders" plus several Afghan "hirelings."
However, U.S. Air Force Maj. Tony Wickman, a spokesman for the 455th said, "With high confidence, it does not appear at this time that enemy fire was a factor in the aircraft crash. We have first responders on scene working at the crash site doing recovery operations, so I can't give you information on casualties on the ground. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the accident."
Wickman said the crash occurred immediately after takeoff. "The aircraft crash site is contained wholly within the confines of the airfield," he told Stars and Stripes.
All aboard were assigned to Operation Resolute Support, the NATO-led mission to provide training and security assistance in Afghanistan.
About 9,500 U.S. service members remain in Afghanistan after the administration's decision earlier this year to keep a larger U.S. force size on the ground to help the Afghan government solidify security gains.
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport plane, which has been in service since the mid-1950s, has been used extensively throughout the 14-year war to move equipment and troops across the mountainous country, which has few usable roads.
The C-130J model is the latest version and is the only one still in production. It has been extensively upgraded with new turboprop engines that give it much better performance and allow for safer hot-and-high take-offs and landings on remote dirt airstrips.
The Afghan air force also operates four of the earlier C-130H models.
Three other C-130s have been lost in Afghanistan, all of them in 2002 during the U.S.-led offensive that resulted in the ouster of the Taliban regime.
-- Stars and Stripes reporters Tara Copp and Slobodan Lekic contributed to this report.