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2 From Massachusetts Base Die In Afghanistan Plane Crash

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Two of the six U.S. airmen who died overnight when a military transport plane crashed in eastern Afghanistan were deployed out of Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.

Hanscom officials made the announcement on the base's website Friday.

"This is a devastating day for our Air Force and for Hanscom Air Force Base," Col. Michael A. Vogel, commander of the base in Bedford, said in a statement. "Our hearts are heavy with sorrow as we grieve with and for the families of these brave Airmen."

The other four airmen were deployed from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas. Five civilian passengers on the plane also died, as did an unknown number of people on the ground.

The six U.S. service members who died comprised the U.S. Air Force C-130J military transport plane's crew. The passengers were civilian contractors working with NATO's Resolute Support mission and were the only passengers on board, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Tony Wickman, spokesman for the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.

No names have been released.

The crash happened shortly after midnight Thursday at Jalalabad air field, 80 miles from Kabul.

The airmen from Hanscom were members of the 66th Security Forces Squadron and were deployed to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.

The Taliban claimed that it shot down the plane, but Wickman dismissed the claim, saying that "it is with high confidence that we can say it does not appear that enemy fire was involved." Few other details were available and an investigation was underway, he added.

Added U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter in a statement: "While we are still trying to determine exactly what happened, this is a reminder of the risks that our men and women face serving their country in remote places all over the world."

Carter expressed condolences to the families of the U.S. victims and to the families of the Afghans killed.

There are about 1,000 coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan, including U.S. and Polish forces, as well as about 40,000 Afghan troops, according to NATO.

There are also up to 35,000 civilian contractors across the country.

With reporting by the Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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