Nine abducted by Taliban after Afghan helicopter crash

Eight Turkish nationals among group kidnapped by insurgents

Afghan insurgents kidnapped nine people including eight Turkish nationals after their helicopter crashed near the border with Pakistan. Photograph: REUTERS/ Stringer

Afghan insurgents kidnapped nine people including eight Turkish nationals after their helicopter crashed near the border with Pakistan. Photograph: REUTERS/ Stringer

Mon, Apr 22, 2013, 12:34

The Taliban has captured all aboard a helicopter that crashed on yesterday in a volatile region of Afghanistan's east, a spokesman said today

. "Mujahideen immediately surrounded the chopper, detained (the) foreigners aboard and completely destroyed the helicopter ... by setting it alight," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an emailed statement.

Nine people including eight Turkish nationals were kidnapped after their helicopter crashed near the border with Pakistan in the country's east, a government official said.

One Afghan citizen was also captured when the helicopter made an emergency landing in the Azra district of Logar province yesterday, Azra Governor Hamidullah Hamid said by phone. Azra borders Pakistan and is a hotbed of Taliban activity.

The helicopter belonged to a private Afghan company Khorasan Cargo Airlines and not the military, Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said. The US-led International Security Assistance Force is helping investigate the crash, spokesman Bryan Gatewood said.

The company spoke to the pilots on Sunday afternoon but had heard nothing from them since.

Rais Khan Sadiq, a senior Logar police detective, said he believed insurgents had captured all those on board but was unable to confirm that immediately.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said a helicopter had come down in eastern Afghanistan but was unable to provide more details. Isaf spokeswoman Erin Stattel said the coalition was assisting in the recovery of the aircraft. She could not say whether the aircraft had made a precautionary landing or whether the Taliban had forced it down.

In Ankara, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said it was asking officials in Afghanistan to check unconfirmed news reports that some or all of the nine people on board the helicopter were Turkish citizens. AP

Helicopter crashes and "hard landings" happen relatively frequently in mountainous Afghanistan. In August 2011, 30 US special forces soldiers, seven Afghans and an interpreter were killed when a Chinook transport helicopter was shot down, the deadliest single incident for foreign troops in more than a decade of war. Khorasan flies Russian Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters as well as fixed-wing aircraft in Afghanistan. They offer troops and cargo transportation as well as medivac and civilian transportation services.

Reuters/Bloomberg/AP