Unidentified armed hijackers took control of a Ukrainian plane and flew it to Iran after it arrived in Afghanistan last week to evacuate Ukrainians, reports quoted a Ukraine Minister as saying.
Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Yenin alleged that the plane was flown to Iran instead of airlifting Ukrainians, as per Russian news agency TASS.
"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," he said as reported by TASS.
According to the Russian news agency, a military transport plane with 83 people on board, including 31 Ukrainians, arrived from Afghanistan to Kyiv on Sunday.
The report quoted the Deputy Foreign Minister saying that the hijackers were armed. Although, he didn’t report anything about what happened to the plane or whether Kyiv would seek to get it back or how the Ukrainian citizens got back from Kabul, onboard of this “practically stolen" plane or another one sent by Kyiv.
However, Ukraine and Iran both have denied reports of hijacking of a Ukrainian evacuation plane from Afghanistan, reported The Jerusalem Post.
The Iranian Civil Aviation Authority denied the report, saying that the plane refueled in Mashhad and then flew to Kyiv. A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Organisation of Iran denied the claims and said, "This plane came to Mashhad airport (northeastern Iran) yesterday for refueling and after refueling, it left for Ukraine and arrived at Kyiv airport at 21:50."
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 the plane was hijacked by armed persons and "actually stolen" if this was not the case, The Jerusalem Post added.