Iran forces western aircraft to land

Iran forced a Western aircraft that accidentally entered its airspace to land, then allowed the plane to continue to Afghanistan after questioning its passengers.

Iran forced a Western aircraft that accidentally entered its airspace to land, then allowed the plane to continue to Afghanistan after questioning its passengers.

The nationality of the plane was unclear. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said it was American, but the State-owned Al-Alam television quoted an unidentified senior Iranian military official saying it belonged to a European aid agency but included some American military passengers. Neither report said when the incident took place.

In Washington, Air Force Lt Col Patrick Ryder, a US Defence Department spokesman, said he had no information that any such incident had occurred and was checking into the report

Fars reported that the plane was carrying five military officials and three civilians from Turkey to Afghanistan when it “unintentionally” entered Iranian airspace.

Iranian fighters guided the plane to an Iranian airport, the passengers were questioned and a day later were released and allowed to continue to their destination, Fars reported. It said the plane was a Falcon, apparently referring to a passenger aircraft manufactured by the French firm Dassault.

Al-Alam, Iran’s official Arabic-language television station, quoted a military official saying the plane belonged to either a British or Hungarian relief agency.

He said the plane “lost its way” and violated Iranian air space. He said the passengers included American military personnel but did not elaborate.

The official said the passengers were questioned and the plane was allowed to continue to Afghanistan, Al-Alam reported.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi said he had no information about the case.

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