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Kabul Plane Crash: Cargo Plane Down In Afghan Mountains

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KABUL, Afghanistan — A cargo plane contracted by a U.S.-based company crashed into mountains east of Afghanistan's capital Kabul, with initial reports saying all eight people aboard were killed, an Afghan airport official said.

The plane was flying from Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan, when it went down east of the capital Tuesday at about 8 p.m. (1530 GMT), Kabul Airport Director Mohammad Yaqub Rassuli told The Associated Press.

An Associated Press photographer near the scene saw wreckage ablaze on a hillside.

The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known. Weather conditions were clear Tuesday evening.

Rassuli said all eight crew members were believed dead, although NATO and Afghan troops were continuing with their search-and-rescue mission.

"We're still hoping to find survivors," NATO spokesman James Judge said. "We're still searching."

The aircraft took off from Bagram, which lies about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Kabul, but its destination was unclear.

The plane owned by United Arab Emirates-based TransAfrik was under contract by the U.S.-based company National Air Cargo, Judge said.

"The company has confirmed that a TransAfrik L-100 aircraft flying from Bagram to Kabul went down shortly before 8:00 p.m.," National Air Cargo said in a statement. "There were eight personnel onboard including one National employee. The status of the personnel on board and cause of the crash are unknown at this time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the crew and their families."

NATO said in a statement that the crash occurred about 16 miles (30 kilometers) east of the Kabul International Airport.

In May, a passenger plane operated by Pamir Airways, a private Afghan airline, crashed while traveling from Kunduz in northern Afghanistan to the capital. All 44 passengers on the plane died.

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Associated Press photographer Gemunu Amarasinghe contributed to this report.