Pakistan seeks help in crew recovery after copter crash
KABUL/PUL-I-ALAM (Pajhwok): Pakistan has asked NATO and Afghanistan authorities to help in the recovery of the helicopter crew reportedly taken hostage by Taliban militants after their helicopter crash landed in central Logar province.
The Pakistani MI-17 helicopter crashed in the Azra district of Logar province on Thursday and Taliban militants took the crew, including former Pakistan military officers and a Russian, hostage.
Azra district chief Hamidullah Hamid told Pajhwok Afghan News the helicopter made hard landing in Obakhti area, 40km from the district centre.
He said six Pakistani officials and one Russian were onboard the helicopter. He said the Taliban captured the crew and set the helicopter on fire.
Logar governor’s spokesman Salim Saleh said the crew members were still with Taliban and according to their information, the hostages were in good health. He said the hostages had been kept within the district.
Pakistan Military’s media wing (ISPR) director general Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa tweeted that Army Chief General Raheel Sharif called Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan General Nicolson and asked him to help in the recovery of the helicopter crew.
He said Gen Nicolson had assured all possible help in this regard. Giving details about the incident, Lt Gen Bajwa confirmed that seven people were on board the helicopter including retired military officers and a Russian navigator.
Afghan government and Afghan National Army authorities have also been contacted for necessary assistance in recovery of the crew members, Bajwa added.
Dawn.com quoted a Punjab government official as saying the helicopter was being sent to Uzbekistan for overhauling when it crashed in Azra district.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said they still lacked complete information about the helicopter crash.
“Telephone does not work in Azra, we have sent our men to Azra to collect information and we will share information with the media once they return.”
A resident of Azra district, who declined to be named, said a local Taliban commander Mullah Sherin set the helicopter on fire and took the crew hostage. He said all the hostages were alive and kept in a secure place.
Yesterday, press attaché at the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, Akhtar Munir, told Pajhwok Afghan News Pakistan was planning to send a helicopter to Uzbekistan for overhauling and it was possible the same helicopter had crashed.
He said the Afghan government had been informed about the sending of the helicopter to Uzbekistan.
The Pakistani media said the helicopter belonged to the Punjab government and it was being sent to Uzbekistan for repair work.
Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif met with families of the hostages and held out assurances of their safe recovery.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.