‘Sent distress signal’: Planes carrying over 100 Afghan soldiers land in Tajikistan | World News

Tajikistan, which shares a 1,350-km border with Afghanistan, said on Monday several military planes carrying more than 100 Afghan soldiers from the neighbouring country landed at the airport in the city of Bokhtar, news agency Reuters reported citing the Tajik foreign affairs ministry. While it is not completely clear why the planes landed in Tajikistan, Russia’s RIA news agency said the aircraft were allowed to enter the Tajik airspace and land at the airport as they sent a “distress signal” to the Tajik authorities.

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The development comes close on the heels of an Afghan military plane crashing in Uzbekistan. The plane was shot down by Uzbek air defences as it tried to violate the airspace between the two countries, reported RIA citing the Uzbek defence ministry. Though there is no information on the number of deaths and injuries, it is reported that the pilot ejected from the aircraft and survived.

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Both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are located to the north of Afghanistan, with the latter’s border with its southern neighbour being 144 kilometres in length. Previously, Afghan soldiers are believed to have fled to the country’s two northern neighbours in the early days of the Taliban’s advances towards Kabul. The insurgent group, buoyed by the withdrawal of American troops from the country after 20 years, captured the Afghan capital on Sunday. The Taliban were uprooted from power in 2001 by US-led forces which arrived here after the 9/11 attacks in New York.

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Tajikistan is where Amrullah Saleh, Afghanistan’s first vice president is believed to have fled. Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, who escaped on Sunday, too, is believed to have tried to enter Tajikistan but left for Oman after being denied permission to land. Ghani is now likely to head to the United States.


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