Afghan Taliban Releases Pak Chopper Crew


Islamabad: Six crew members of a Pakistani Mi-17 helicopter, taken hostage by the Afghan Taliban after their chopper crash-landed in Afghanistan, on Saturday arrived in Islamabad following their release, officials said.

In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said the crew of Punjab government helicopter has been recovered and arrived in Islamabad today.

“The crew was released in an inter-tribe exchange on the Pakistan-Afghan border in FATA,” he said, adding that they were further transported from FATA to Islamabad by a chopper.

The crew included five Pakistani nationals and a Russian technician. However, earlier reports indicated that seven persons were onboard the aircraft.

The MI-17 transport helicopter was on its way to Russia for maintenance when it crash landed on August 4 in a Taliban controlled area of Logar province. The rebels made the crew members as hostages.

An official said that local tribal elders were tasked to release the captives and after successful negotiation, the Taliban released the crew. “All crew members were handed over to Pakistani in Kurram tribal region,” an official said.