Foreign Nationals Including Turks Missing In Afghanistan After Their Helicopter Lands In Taliban-Controlled Area

 @AmruthaGayathri on April 22 2013 4:08 AM
Afghan boy
Afghan boy collects water from a river on the outskirts of Kabul on March 23, 2013 REUTERS

Taliban insurgents may have captured a helicopter carrying foreign nationals, most of them Turks, in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, without ruling out the possibility that the passengers were being held by the insurgents.

The helicopter, owned by a charter company, Khorasan Cargo Airlines, made an emergency landing in Logar province on Sunday because of bad weather, a Khorasan staff member told Reuters, on the condition of anonymity. The helicopter landed in Logar's eastern-most district, Azra, which borders Pakistan and is considered a flashpoint of Taliban activity.

The helicopter was carrying six or seven engineers from a Turkish construction company, two foreign pilots and an Afghan pilot, the Khorasan staff member said.

Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Reuters via telephone, from an undisclosed location, that he couldn't yet confirm if insurgents were holding the group.

A CNN report from Kabul, however, said the Taliban, in a text message to news outlets, claimed responsibility for forcing the chopper down, adding that the insurgents had taken the passengers hostage.

Hamidullah Hamid, the district administrator, told the Associated Press that the helicopter landed on Sunday afternoon in strong winds and rain, in a village of Logar province, adding that the Taliban captured all on board and removed them from the area.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed to Reuters that a helicopter had landed in eastern Afghanistan, but he was unable to provide more details.

The Turkish foreign ministry said it couldn't confirm the involvement of the Taliban or whether any of its citizens had been taken hostage.

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