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A mysterious Twin Otter plane owned by an alleged CIA front turned up in northern Ontario this fall, raising unanswered questions about why it was there.

It's the latest twist in a perplexing saga of aircraft controlled by apparent shell companies of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Flight data obtained by The Canadian Press indicates the DeHavilland DHC-6-300 aircraft landed in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in early October after taking off from Michigan's Jackson County Airport.

From there, the 22-seat turboprop made the short trip to the airport just southwest of the hamlet of Bar River, Ont.

A Bar River airport official said he does not discuss planes that use the facility out of respect for customers' privacy.

"I suggest you don't pursue this any further," said the official, who asked not to be named.

"I have no knowledge of any CIA aircraft."

Planes that stop in Bar River generally do so for refuelling or maintenance, he said.

The airport is home to a company that specializes in work on DeHavilland aircraft. There is no record of the plane leaving Bar River.

The alleged CIA Twin Otter had flown to Jackson, Mich., from Johnston County Airport in Smithfield, N.C., a facility singled out by the New York Times as a hub for covert American air operations.

U.S. Federal Aviation Administration records show the aircraft, with tail number N6161Q, is registered to Aviation Specialties, Inc., one of seven firms identified by the Times as CIA proprietaries.

The address of the difficult-to-trace company is an anonymous Washington post office box.

The plane is among at least seven aircraft owned by alleged CIA front companies that have landed at Canadian airports, including three in Newfoundland and one in Nunavut, during the last six months, according to flight data.

Several European countries have begun investigations into charges that planes owned by the intelligence agency landed at airstrips in their cities. Concern has focused on reports some of the planes may have been transporting terrorist suspects to foreign prisons.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment on reports of Canadian landings.

More questions than answers surround a flurry of recent allegations about CIA flights to various countries pieced together from air registries, media stories and sightings by aircraft enthusiasts documented on plane-spotting websites.

A woman who answered a phone number that appears in corporate records for Path Corp. - a Delaware firm identified as one of the CIA shell companies - said it was an incorrect listing.

Captions accompanying Internet photos of the N6161Q Twin Otter note the prominent antennae on its upper fuselage. The plane has reportedly been to Nevada, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Malta and an airport in Shannon, Ireland.

Last week, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had reassured him the airport had not been used for "anything untoward."

Rice is expected to respond this week to concerns about allegations of secret CIA jails said to hold terrorism suspects in Eastern Europe.

The Bloc Quebecois has repeatedly pressed the Canadian government for details about the alleged CIA flights, accusing the Liberals of hiding information.

In a recent letter to Bloc MP Serge Menard, Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said there was no credible information to support suggestions two flights mentioned by the Bloc had been transporting terrorist suspects or otherwise engaging in illegal activities on Canadian soil.

Reports indicate dozens of CIA-linked flights may have landed in Canada during the last four years.

Zuwena Robidas, a Public Safety Department spokeswoman, said further inquiries are still underway.

The Foreign Affairs Department has said it will bring any information of concern to Washington's attention.