Uzbekistan said Monday that it forced the landing of 46 Afghan aircraft carrying 585 troops that illegally crossed its border on a weekend which saw the Afghan government swept away by the Taliban.
The statement from the Central Asian country’s state prosecutor said 22 military planes and 24 military helicopters were “forcibly landed” at Termez airport in southern Uzbekistan on Saturday and Sunday.
Among the planes that crossed the border was an Afghan military plane that crashed in the southern province of Surkhondaryo, the statement said.
The state prosecutor said that the crash came after a collision between an Afghan military plane and an Uzbek government plane that was assisting its landing.
“The pilots of these aircraft landed by parachute,” the statement said.
The prosecutor’s statement also said that 158 civilians and military personnel had crossed over the Amu Darya river into Uzbekistan on Sunday and were now under criminal investigation.
Central Asian alarm
Central Asia has watched with alarm as the government in Kabul collapsed.
Three former Soviet countries — Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — border Afghanistan.
The military plane’s reported crash late on Sunday set media abuzz in Uzbekistan as photos and footage of the debris and wounded pilots circulated on Telegram.
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, that were presumed to be the pilots of the plane.
The doctor described one as being “with a parachute” and noted that the man had suffered fractures.
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 those Afghan soldiers were detained the night before 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 members 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.
Of the three Central Asian countries bordering Afghanistan, only Tajikistan has eschewed talks with Taliban officials, who have assured neighbours of their commitment to regional peace and infrastructure projects.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)