The Taliban has said that it had nothing to do with the disappearance of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane – but that it wished it had been able to hijack the flight.
As the frantic search for the 239 on board enters its 11th day, Taliban militants – along with aviation officials in Pakistan, India and central Asia – said Tuesday that they knew nothing about the whereabouts of the passenger jet.
A spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan, told Reuters the group “do not have any information as it is an external issue.”
Another unnamed Taliban source in Pakistan added: “We wish we had an opportunity to hijack such a plane.”
Investigators are said to be pursuing the theory that the Boeing 777-200 was diverted thousands of kilometres off course as the search for the plane extends into central Asia.
Malaysia has confirmed that it sent diplomatic notes to all countries along an arc of the northern and southern corridors, including Pakistan and India, requesting access to radar and satellite information, the Malaysian Transport Minister said this morning.
He emphasised that the current line of investigation is still that someone on board the plane took "deliberate action," to change the flight's course.
Indian defence officials have reportedly robustly rejected the possibility the plane could have been flying for hours above the country undetected.
"The idea that the plane flew through Indian airspace for several hours without anyone noticing is bizarre," a defence ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"These are wild reports, without any basis," he said, adding a pilot would have to know the precise location of all Indian radars and surveillance systems to be able to get around them.
He added that surveillance was so tight on India’s border facing its nuclear arch-rival Pakistan that the air force scrambled a pair of Sukhoi fighters last month after an unidentified object showed up on the radar.
It turned out to be a weather balloon drifting towards the Pakistan border.
Pakistani officials also said they had detected nothing suspicious in the skies after the plane vanished.
”We have checked the radar recording for the period but found no clue about the ill-fated flight,” the Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.
Central Asian countries Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, at the northern end of the search arc, said no unidentified planes had entered their air space.
”Even if all on-board equipment is switched off, it is impossible to fly through in a silent mode,” the Kazakh Civil Aviation Committee said.
China has said no evidence of terror links had been found in Chinese passengers, which could discount one theory that Uighur separatists - the group blamed for an attack in Beijing's Tiananmen Square last October and the massacre at Kunming railway station earlier this month - might have been involved in the plane's disappearance.
As the search widened, some observers suggested the plane might have flown to remote mountainous areas abutting Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan where Taliban militants are holed up.
But Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan, said: ”It happened outside Afghanistan and you can see that even countries with very advanced equipment and facilities cannot figure out where it went,” he said.