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Crashed Helicopter Crew Hostage by Taliban

On Thursday, the Punjab government helicopter, operated by Chief Minister of Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif, which was enroute to Russia for routine overhaul, crash landed in the eastern province of Afghanistan, Logar which is under hold of Taliban.

The passengers and helicopter have been captured by Taliban, which included six Pakistanis and one Russian technician.

Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, said that the government is using all formal and informal channels to seek the return of seven passengers. The passengers were taken hostage by Taliban in Afghanistan.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif tweeted that, “efforts are being done in top gear for recovery of the crew and the pilots of the chopper.”

NafeesZakaria, foreign office spokesman, said that the aircraft had permission to fly over Afghan air space towards Uzbekistan for its overhauling. He also added that, “they have been waiting for an answer from Afghan government over the location of the crashed chopper, but they did not receive any information in last 24 hours.”

Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, also called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and requested him his country’s help. DG ISPR tweeted that Ashraf Ghani assured his all possible assistance in this regard. COAS also called US commander in Afghanistan for recovery of captured men by Taliban.

Taliban commander added that all seven are in safe hands and all of them are being provided tea, food and everything. He added that seeking help from Afghan government or U.S military is of no use because the Taliban have control over this area. He further added that they are in direct contact with Pakistani officials. But, Pakistani government and military did not confirm direct talks with the Taliban.

Afghan media have also reported that the seven people on board were hostage by the Taliban. Hamidullah Hamid, the local district governor also gave the same statement and further added that they have taken them to an unknown place.

The helicopter caught fire after being crashed and was transported to Kabul and will be handed to Pakistan through Torkham Border.

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