Pakistan: Helicopter crash-lands in Taliban-held area
Aug.5, Kabul: Taliban fighters are believed to have captured all passengers and crew of a Pakistani government helicopter that crash-landed in eastern Afghanistan, reports said.
The helicopter went down late on Thursday in Logar province, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, an increasingly lawless area since a two-year Pakistani military operation pushed many Taliban and allied fighters further into Afghanistan, according to Afghan officials.
"The chopper was not shot but made the landing because of technical failure," Sameem Saleh, spokesman for Logar's governor, told Reuters news agency.
"Those detained by the Taliban are Pakistanis."
Nafees Zakaria, a spokesman for the Pakistani foreign office, confirmed that a helicopter belonging to the Punjab provincial government had gone down in Logar, but said the fate of those on board was not yet clear. He said that seven passengers were on board, six of them Pakistanis and one a Russian technician. The pilot was Pakistani.
The Russian-made MI-17 transport helicopter had permission to fly over Afghan airspace on its way to Uzbekistan further north, he said.
A senior Pakistani military official also said the Russian-made MI-17 transport helicopter was en route from Peshawar in northwest Pakistan to Uzbekistan for maintenance when it experienced technical failure and made an emergency landing.
The crash came a few hours after a van carrying 12 tourists from the UK, US and Germany was attacked in the Chesht-e-Sharif district of Herat province in western Afghanistan.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which wounded at least seven people. In a statement, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, Taliban spokesman, said the foreigners were killed - a claim Afghan officials denied, Al Jazeera reported.
The Oslo Times International News Network