KABUL airspace for sending a helicopter to Uzbekistan and an investigation into the helicopter crash had been launched.
The Pakistani Mi-17 helicopter crash landed in Azra district of central Logar province on Thursday about 40km east of the district centre due to technical problems.
The Azra district chief, Hamidullah Hamid, told Pajhwok Afghan News six Pakistani military officials and one Russian were onboard the helicopter when it crashed. He said the Taliban then captured all the six and took them to unknown location.
MoD spokesman Dawlat Waziri acknowledged to Pajhwok Afghan News that a Pakistani Mi-17 helicopter had performed an emergency landing in Logar province due to a technical fault.
After the landing, he said, the Taliban attacked the crew and took them hostage. He said Pakistan through the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs had sought permission from the Afghan Ministry of Aviation to use the Afghan airspace for sending the helicopter to Uzbekistan for overhauling.
“Investigation in this regard is underway to determine if it was the same helicopter,” Waziri said, adding that the Afghan government had ordered the national security forces to make efforts at securing safe release of the hostages.
Pakistan Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif phoned President Ashraf Ghani and requested his assistance for the safe recovery of the kidnapped crew, the army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Asim Bajwa said.
President Ashraf Ghani assured the COAS of “all possible assistance” in this regard, tweeted Asim Bajwa
The Pakistan Foreign Ministry is also in touch with the Afghan government about the incident. “We are consulting, and high level consultations with the Afghan delegation are underway at the Foreign Office,” said Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
The Mi-17 chopper, which was on its way to Russia via Uzbekistan for maintenance, crashed in Afghanistan’s Logar province, where Taliban insurgents took the crew hostage before setting the aircraft on fire.
Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif on Friday visited the families of the helicopter’s pilots Col. (retd) Shafiqur Rehman, Col (retd.) Nasir Mehmood and Col. (retd) Safdar Hussein in Lahore and expressed his heartfelt sympathies.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said an investigative team is being sent to the area as it is not contactable by phone.
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.
General Raheel Sharif earlier called Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan General Nicolson and asked him to help in the recovery of the helicopter crew.
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.