The Pakistan Army has admitted that a Pakistani helicopter crash landed in Afghanistan, and 6 crew members have been taken hostage by the Taliban.
According to the Afghan media, a Pakistani helicopter belonging to the government of Punjab came down in the Logar province of Afghanistan on Thursday. Reports surfaced that the Taliban had taken six crew members hostage following the emergency landing, writes Tahir Khan for The Express Tribune. Pakistani officials have confirmed that six hostages have been taken.
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Helicopter crashes in Afghanistan on its way to Russia
Some local media reported that the Taliban had set fire to the helicopter, but others say that the aircraft caught fire before it hit the ground. The five Pakistanis and one Russian on board were en route to Russia to get the helicopter, which belongs to the government of Punjab, overhauled.
“Pakistan military helicopter crashed in the Mati area of Azra district,” said Salim Saleh, a spokesperson for the provincial governor, according to Afghanistan’s Tolo TV. Saleh claimed that the helicopter caught fire on fire, but a local resident said the Taliban burnt it.
The Taliban have not commented on the incident. “We will try to get information,” said spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid.
Hostages taken by local Taliban insurgents
“An Mi-17 transport helicopter belonging to the Punjab government was scheduled to fly to Russia for repair. We think the same chopper crash-landed in Logar,” Pakistani embassy spokesman Akhtar Munir told AFP. “We don’t know anything about the fate of those on-board or why it crash-landed.”
The hostages were named as Col Safdar (R) Lt Col Shafique (R) Maj Safdar (R) Russian navigator, Sergei Sevastianov and Lt Col (R) Nasir Havaldar Kasur.
“They have been taken to an unknown location,” said local district governor Hamidullah Hamid.
Russian Mi-17 helicopters are used by the Pakistani army. Afghan officials have consistently accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban in an attempt to keep some influence in the country. The relationship between the two neighbors remains tense, and this latest incident is unlikely to help matters.