Ukraine, Iran deny hijacking of evacuation plane from Afghanistan

Ukraine and Iran both have denied reports of hijacking of a Ukrainian evacuation plane from Afghanistan, foreign media reported.

The Ukrainian government as well as the aviation chief of Iran, have denied reports of hijacking of any Ukrainian evacuation plane in Afghanistan.

Conflicting reports emerged earlier about the suspected hijacking of a Ukrainian plane that arrived in Afghanistan to evacuate Ukrainian nationals.

Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Yenin was quoted as saying by news agencies that the plane was ‘hijacked by unidentified people who flew it into Iran’.

Iran’s aviation spokesman rejected the reports of Ukrainian airliner being hijacked and flown to Iran. Iran’s aviation chief also said that the Ukrainian plane stopped in Mashhad last night for refuelling and then headed to Ukraine. “It’s now landed in Kiev,” reports cited him as saying.

Earlier, news agency TASS reported that the plane flew into Iran with an unidentified group of passengers, instead of lifting Ukrainian passengers. According to the minister, the hijackers were armed. The minister made no reference to whether the Ukrainian government will make efforts to trace the flight. There was no official word on how the Ukrainian citizens – if any – on board the plane would be rescued or brought back home.

“Last Sunday, our plane was hijacked by other people. On Tuesday, the plane was practically stolen from us, it flew into Iran with an unidentified group of passengers onboard instead of airlifting Ukrainians. Our next three evacuation attempts were also not successful because our people could not get into the airport,” the minister was quoted as saying by TASS.

The Iranian Civil Aviation Authority denied the report, saying that the plane refuelled in Mashhad and then flew to Kiev.

According to the RBC Ukraine news agency, Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry denied the report as well, saying “There are no captured Ukrainian planes in Kabul or elsewhere. The information about the ‘captured plane’ that is being circulated by some media outlets is not true.”

Nikolenko clarified that Yenin was only generally explaining the unprecedented level of difficulties that diplomats had to face in evacuating Ukrainians. It is unclear why Yenin said that plane was hijacked by armed persons and “actually stolen” if this was not the case, The Jerusalem Post added.

According to news agency IANS, a military transport plane with 83 people, including 31 Ukrainians, arrived from Afghanistan to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. The office of the president reported that 12 military personnel were received back home. 100 Ukrainians are still waiting for evacuation from Afghanistan, agency reports citing officials of the presidential office cited.

-Agencies

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