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Did Qatari Fighter Jets Intercept Two Passenger Planes on Monday?

According to officials in the United Arab Emirates, both an Etihad and an Emirates flight were engaged in international airspace by military jets from Qatar.

Government officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) say that ongoing tensions with Gulf state rival Qatar have now resulted in military threats that have “put passengers at risk.” The UAE has accused Qatar of using military jets to intercept two separate passenger planes, including an Emirates flight and an Etihad Airways flight in international airspace on Monday.

According to the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) the back-to-back incidents between the passenger planes and hostile military aircraft occurred at 10:30 a.m. and 11:05 a.m. respectively. The agency says that both radar in Bahrain and passengers on the flights confirmed the close approaches by military planes. GCAA officials called the incidents “a clear and explicit threat to the lives of innocent civilians.”

Officials in Qatar, however, have denied the claims outright.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry referred to the accusation as “a totally false claim” in a statement published by NEWS.com.au. “It seems that the UAE is trying to draw attention away from other incidents that have caused media crises,” the strongly worded official statement continued.

The alleged mid-air conflict between civilian and military aircraft is just the latest in a series of diplomatic and military escalations among feuding nations in the Persian Gulf region. In June of last year, Etihad banned passengers holding Qatari passports from boarding flights to the UAE. At the time, the airline said that it was following “government policy,”a claim later confirmed by government officials.

Earlier that same month, the Saudi Arabia General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) announced that aircraft from Qatar would be indefinitely banned from the kingdom’s airspace and airports. A few weeks later, U.S. intelligence officials blamed the rising tensions in the region on a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation targeting Qatar.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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