Uzbekistan says it ‘forced’ the landing of 46 Afghan aircraft carrying 585 Afghan troops

Afghan pilot (NATO Training Mission/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Uzbekistan said August 16 that it “forced” the landing of 46 Afghan aircraft carrying 585 troops that illegally crossed its border fleeing the Taliban blitz that saw Kabul fall to the militants on August 15.

The statement from the Central Asian country’s state prosecutor’s office said 22 military planes and 24 military helicopters were “forcibly landed” at Termez airport in southern Uzbekistan on August 14 and August 15.

The state prosecutor said one Afghan aircraft collided with an escorting Uzbek fighter jet causing both to crash in Uzbekistan’s southernmost Surxondaryo Province bordering Afghanistan. The pilots of both Afghan and Uzbek planes had ejected and survived, it said.

The statement contradicted earlier comments by the Uzbek Defense Ministry that said the Afghan military plane was shot down by Uzbek air defense forces.

The prosecutor’s statement said that a further 158 people — both civilian and military — crossed the border on foot on August 15.

The current whereabouts of the Afghan troops and aircraft were not immediately clear.

Tajikistan, another Central Asian republic bordering Afghanistan, also said on August 16 that two Afghan military planes carrying over 100 soldiers in total were allowed to land in the Tajik city of Bokhtar.