UAE claims Qatari fighter jets intercepted civilian plane

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By Middle East Affairs

UAE state news agency WAM reported Sunday that the United Arab Emirates claims Qatari fighter jets intercepted a civilian aircraft on its way to Bahrain.

The plane, with 86 passengers aboard, had to maneuver around the fighter jets to avoid a collision, the agency quoted UAE’s civil aviation authority as saying.

Both countries have accused each other of a series of mid-air incidents since travel, diplomatic and trade sanctions were placed on Qatar in June by several of its regional neighbors.

Saudi Arabia initiated the boycott, which also gained the participation of Egypt and Bahrain, as well as UAE. The four countries accuse Qatar of having ties to terrorist groups, which Qatar denies and, furthermore, claims they only want to minimize its sovereignty.

Earlier this week, officials confirmed that Qatar had taken part in joint military exercises with its Gulf Arab neighbors and the United States, signaling potential compromise.

A Qatari military statement reported on by Reuters did not “provide details about the size of the Qatari contingent that took part in the Gulf Shield exercises” from March 21 to April 16.

However, an official from one of the 23 participating countries told reporters that Qatar had sent one ship with nine officers to join the drills, while seven other officers were observing.

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