Hostage crew: ‘Taliban want prisoner swap with Pakistan’
KABUL (Pajhwok): Some sources close to Taliban insurgents on Sunday said the rebels had asked Pakistan to release some of their key prisoners in exchange for a helicopter crew they held hostage after their helicopter crashed in central Logar province on Thursday.
The Pakistani MI-17 helicopter belonging to the government of Punjab province crash landed in Azra district of Logar on Thursday afternoon and Taliban militants held hostage six Pakistani military officers and a Russian national onboard after the crash.
Pakistan says the copter was on its way to Uzbekistan for maintenance and the Afghan government has granted permission for that.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Presidential Palace had also confirmed Pakistan sought permission to transport the copter through Afghanistan and the President Ashraf Ghani during Saturday’s National Security Council (NSC) meeting appointed two commissions to investigate the incident.
There has been formally no word from Taliban insurgents about the incident, but a source close to the rebels told Pajhwok Afghan News the helicopter incident had divided Taliban insurgents into two groups.
The source said, Taliban’s military council head, Mullah Sadar Ibrahim, had sent a letter to the movement’s supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah, to exchange the seized Pakistani officials with Taliban prisoners.
He said Mullah Sadar, besides other prisoners, had demanded the release of Mullah Berader, Kandahar’s Commander Mullah Samad and Qari Ahmadullah’s wounded brother, Mullah Dawood, by Pakistan.
The source said Mullah Sadar Ibrahim was among closest comrades of former Taliban leader, Mullah Mansour and Pakistan believed Mullah Ibrahim was involved in Mansour’s killing.
Pakistani media outlets reported that Pakistani Taliban’s Hakimullah Mehsud group had claimed kidnapping the crewmembers.
However, a source in Logar province said a Taliban commander named Adam Khan Kochi had the crew in his custody and he had close relations with Hakimullah Mehsud.
He said the crewmembers had been seized with hundred thousands of dollars, rupees, weapons, satellite telephones and a GPS device.
However, the Pakistan Army denied the hostages included any of Gen. Raheel Sharif relatives.
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