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03 December 2023

Afghan plane forced to fly back after angry MPs miss flight


Supporters of two Afghan MPs who missed a domestic flight from Kabul blocked an airport runway with rocks, forcing the plane to return for the lawmakers, officials said.

The Kam Air flight was abruptly forced to fly back from central Bamiyan province earlier this week, triggering uproar and ridicule on social media with many accusing the lawmakers of abusing their powers.

Five people, including airport security officials, have been arrested over the "illegal diversion", the interior ministry said Thursday.

"When the two MPs arrived at Kabul airport, the plane was on the runway and ready to take off," Humayun Stanakzai, a director of civil aviation, told AFP.

"The MPs got angry and called their men in Bamiyan. When the plane approached Bamiyan airport, their men were at the airport blocking the runway with rocks. The plane could not land and had to be diverted back to Kabul."

The plane carrying 30 passengers had to be refuelled and took off again for Bamiyan with the two MPs on board.

The lawmakers, Abdul Rahman Shaheedani and Hussain Naseri, were not immediately reachable for comment.

Kam Air, a private carrier, on Wednesday said they were indefinitely suspending all flights to Bamiyan, adding that the incident could have risked the lives of the passengers and airport workers.

Afghan lawmakers are regularly accused of corruption, nepotism and abusing their authority to enrich themselves.

Civil aviation has been expanding rapidly in Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted from power in a US-led invasion in 2001, with several private airlines operating in the country.

Flight safety remains a concern but aviation disasters are relatively rare in Afghanistan, where travel by road through vast and remote terrain is made more hazardous by the Taliban insurgency.