Pakistani copter crashes in Afghanistan, occupants feared held by Taliban
By Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Jibran Ahmad
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A Pakistani government helicopter crash-landed in Taliban-held territory in Afghanistan on Thursday and all passengers and crew are feared captured by the insurgents, officials said.
The helicopter went down in Logar province, near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan’s lawless and mountainous tribal areas.
“Those detained by the Taliban are Pakistanis,” Sameem Saleh, spokesman for Logar’s governor, said. “The chopper was not shot but made the landing because of technical failure.”
A Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that a helicopter belong to the Punjab provincial government had gone down, saying the fate of the crew was not yet clear.
“The Afghan authorities have assured they will investigate and know about the whereabouts of the helicopter and the passengers,” spokesman Nafees Zakaria said.
He said seven passengers were on board, comprising six Pakistanis and one Russian, a technician. The pilot was Pakistani.
Hameed Khan, district governor of Azra district of Logar, said the helicopter landed in his border district.
“They were detained by the Taliban,” Khan said.
A senior Pakistani military official said the Russian-made MI-17 transport helicopter was en route from Peshawar in northwest Pakistan to Uzbekistan for maintenance when it experienced technical failure and made an emergency landing.
He said there was no information about the occupants.
(Writing by Kay Johnson; editing by John Stonestreet)