Monday, 27 September, 2021

Afghan military plane crashes in Uzbekistan

TERMEZ: An Afghan military plane has crashed in Uzbekistan, the Central Asian country’s defence ministry said on Monday, while neighbouring Tajikistan said over 100 Afghan soldiers had landed at one of its airports, reports AFP.

“The military plane illegally crossed the border of Uzbekistan. An investigation is under way,” ministry spokesman Bakhrom Zulfikarov told AFP, confirming Uzbek media reports of a crash late Sunday in the southern province of Surkhondaryo, which borders Afghanistan.

Russian news agencies on Monday reported that the plane had been shot down by Uzbekistan, citing defence ministry officials.

Zulfikarov said the defence ministry would prepare a statement later.

It was not clear if anybody died in the crash, but at least two Afghan soldiers were reported as having survived the incident.

Bekpulat Okboyev, a doctor in the city of Termez, Surkhondaryo’s regional capital, told AFP his hospital had taken in two patients who were wearing Afghan military uniforms late on Sunday.

The doctor described one as being “with a parachute” and noted that the man had suffered fractures.

Images and footage on the Telegram messaging app showed a man in military uniform receiving treatment and what appeared to be debris from the plane crash.

Okboyev said his hospital had also accepted three Afghan soldiers a day earlier after a total of 84 troops illegally crossed the border into the country while fleeing the Taliban.

Uzbekistan’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that the Afghan soldiers were detained by Uzbek border services but had received humanitarian assistance.

The statement said Uzbekistan was negotiating with the “Afghan side” over their return home.

Uzbekistan’s neighbour Tajikistan said Monday it had allowed over 100 Afghan military to land at Bokhtar airport in the south of the country.

“Tajikistan received SOS signals, after which, in accordance with the country’s international obligations, it was decided to allow Afghan servicemen to land at the airport,” the Tajik foreign ministry’s information department told Russian news agencies Interfax and RIA Novosti.

RIA Novosti reported that three planes carrying the soldiers had landed in Bokhtar during the night.

Central Asia has watched with alarm as the government in Kabul collapsed.

Three former Soviet countries—Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan—border Afghanistan.

Of the three, only Tajikistan has eschewed talks with Taliban officials, who have assured neighbours of their commitment to regional peace and infrastructure projects.