October 7, 2008
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian news reports claimed Tuesday that Iran forced down a Western aircraft that accidentally entered its airspace, then allowed the plane to continue to Afghanistan after questioning its passengers.
The state-owned Al-Alam, Iran’s official Arabic-language television station, quoted an unidentified senior Iranian military official as saying the plane belonged either to a British or Hungarian relief agency and had been traveling from Turkey to Afghanistan.
White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, “We’re looking into the various and conflicting reports coming from the Iranian `news’ agencies, but do not have any information at this time that would lead us to believe they are correct.”
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The U.S. military’s Central Command said in a statement from its headquarters in Doha, Qatar that no American plane was involved in the incident, as some Iranian media initially reported.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi said he had no information about the case. Other Iranian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The official quoted by Al-Alam said the plane “lost its way” and violated Iranian air space. He said the passengers — who he said included American military personnel — were questioned and that the plane was allowed to continue to Afghanistan.
It was not clear when the incident took place. Al-Alam reported the plane was forced to land on Sunday and left the next day. The semi-official news agency ISNA said the forced landing was on Sept. 30 and the departure the following day.
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