U.S. suspends Afghan troop flights from Kyrgyz base

* Base crucial to Afghan operations

By Maria Golovnina ATA-BEIIT, Kyrgyzstan (BestGrowthStock) – The United States stopped all troops flying to Afghanistan via its Kyrgyz air base as security concerns persisted on Saturday following an uprising in the Central Asian state.

All passenger flights from the Manas air base, a vital cog in supplying NATO operations in Afghanistan, were suspended from Friday evening, a spokesman for the base said.

“While normal flight operations at Manas were resumed on Friday, a decision was taken Friday evening to temporarily divert military passenger transport flights,” the spokesman, Rickardo Bodden, told Reuters by telephone.

His comments confirmed those of the U.S. military’s Central Command on Friday.

Bodden declined to say when passenger flights would resume or to reveal the alternative route being used. He said the base was still conducting fuelling, cargo and humanitarian flights.

“The transition center at Manas is conducting other flight operations on a limited basis and continues to support operations in Afghanistan,” he said.

Pentagon officials say Manas is central to the war effort against the Taliban, allowing around-the-clock flights in and out of neighboring Afghanistan. About 50,000 troops passed through last month alone.

Members of Kyrgyzstan’s self-proclaimed new leadership have said the U.S. lease on the base could be shortened.

Russia, the first country to recognize the new Kyrgyz leadership, also has an air base in the country. A Russian official, who declined to be named, said on Thursday that the strategically important country should have only a Russian base.

At least 75 people were killed in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, during an uprising that forced President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to flee to his traditional stronghold in the south of the country of 5.3 million people.

Stock Market Investing

(Writing by Robin Paxton, editing by Louise Ireland)

U.S. suspends Afghan troop flights from Kyrgyz base