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Kyrgyzstan Blames U.S. Military For Plane Collision --> (RFE/RL) December 13, 2006 -- A Kyrgyz government commission investigating a recent collision between a U.S. military aircraft and a passenger plane has blamed the U.S. crew for the incident.

In the September 26 incident, a Kyrgyz Tu-154 airliner was preparing to take off when its wing hit the U.S. KC-135 stratotanker, which had just landed.

Addressing reporters today in Bishkek, the deputy director of Kyrgyz's Civil Aviation Department, Alik Askarov, said the U.S. crew had switched off the aircraft's wing lights.

He also accused the U.S. military of dragging out its own investigation.

The head of the Kyrgyz national air carrier's trade union, Natalya Smolenskaya, said the incident cost the company $3 million.

The United States has been renting a military air base from Kyrgyzstan since 2001 for operations in Afghanistan.

(Kabar, AKIpress)