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May 3, 2013

Refueling tanker plane crashes in Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — A U.S. military refueling tanker plane crashed Friday in Kyrgyzstan, the Central Asian nation's emergencies ministry said. There was no immediate word on any casualties.

Kyrgyzstan hosts a U.S. base that is used for flying troops into and out of Afghanistan and for KC-135 tanker planes that refuel warplanes in flight.

The plane crashed Friday afternoon near the village of Chaldovar, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of the Manas air base, the ministry said in a statement. It identified the plane as a Boeing 707, but that is a civilian airliner on which the KC-135 tanker is based.

The plane broke into three pieces when it crashed into an uninhabited area, the head of the region that includes Chaldovar, Kuralbek Khamaliyev, told The Associated Press by telephone.

The U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan, called the Transit Center at Manas, said it had no immediate information. The base, which is adjacent to the Manas International Airport outside the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, was established in late 2001 to support the international military campaign in Afghanistan.

The base has been the subject of a contentious dispute between the United States and its host nation. In 2009, the U.S. reached an agreement with the Kyrgyz government to use the base in return for $60 million a year.

But the lease runs out in June 2014 and the United States wants to keep the base beyond that point to aid in the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

 

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