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Afghan military jet shot down by Uzbek air defences

2 min read
Plane downed in Uzbekistan’s southernmost Surxondaryo province as Afghan gov’t collapses and Taliban seize Kabul.

An Afghan military jet was shot down by Uzbek air defence forces and crashed after crossing the border into Uzbekistan, the Uzbek defence ministry says.

The jet crashed late on Sunday in Uzbekistan’s southernmost Surxondaryo province, which lies adjacent to Afghanistan.

The incident took place as Afghanistan’s government collapsed in the face of a rapid Taliban offensive which saw the armed group seize control of the capital, Kabul.

“Uzbekistan’s air defence forces prevented an attempt by an Afghan military aircraft to illegally cross Uzbekistan’s border,” defence ministry spokesman Bahrom Zulfikorov said.

He did not say how many people were on board or whether they have survived the crash.

Bekpulat Okboyev, a doctor in Surxondaryo province, told the AFP news agency his hospital had taken in two patients who were wearing Afghan military uniforms on Sunday evening.

The doctor described one of the patients as having come in “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.

Russia’s RIA news agency earlier on Monday cited Uzbekistan’s defence ministry as saying the jet’s pilot had ejected and was injured.

The developments came after Uzbekistan said on Sunday that it had detained 84 Afghan soldiers who had crossed the border while fleeing the Taliban and sought medical help.

Uzbekistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the 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.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Tajikistan, another former Soviet nation that borders Afghanistan, said on Monday that several military aeroplanes carrying more than 100 Afghan soldiers in total had landed at the airport in its southwestern city of Bokhtar.

The Tajik authorities allowed the aircraft to enter the country’s airspace and land after receiving a distress signal, RIA quoted the Tajik foreign affairs ministry as saying.

“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.

Central Asia has watched with alarm as the Afghan 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.

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