Crew of crashed Pak helicopter released by Afghan Taliban: Officials

Peshawar (Pakistan), Aug. 13 : Pakistani officials on Saturday said that six people, including a Russian national, who were captured by the Afghan Taliban following the crash of the Punjab government helicopter in eastern Afghanistan last week, were released and turned over to their custody.

The crew "was released in an inter-tribe exchange on the Pakistan-Afghan border (and) arrived in Islamabad today", the Dawn quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria as saying in a statement.

The statement added all the crew members are safe and in good health. Reports suggest that the crew members were handed over to authorities in Kurram Agency on Friday. The Punjab province government's Mi-17 chopper made an emergency landing in a Taliban-controlled Logar province on August 4 while flying to Russia for maintenance.

Seven crew members, including a Russian navigator, were taken hostage by a group of militants believed to be Afghan Taliban.

Following the move, both Russian and the Pakistani governments have been making efforts for the release of the hostages.

The Afghan Government also initiated an operation rescue of the hostages. Following last week's crash, Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel had immediately called Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan General Nicolson asking his him to help in the recovery of the helicopter crew.

He also called the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani seeking his help in organising a safe and early recovery of the hostages.

Source: ANI