Pakistan

Six crew members of Punjab govt helicopter recovered in Afghanistan 

HELLICOPTER

ISLAMABAD: Six crew members including a Russian captain of a helicopter of the Punjab government which made an emergency landing in Afghanistan have reportedly been recovered. 

The Mi-17 helicopter was supposedly flying to Russia for maintenance through Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, when it was forced to make a emergency landing on 4th August in the Logar province of Afghanistan. The crew members were taken hostage by the Afghan Taliban who also destroyed the helicopter.

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif made efforts for their recovery and called Commander Resolute Support Mission General John Nicholson and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who assured him assured him of their full support and intensified back channel efforts for their recovery.

The Foreign Office said that efforts are being made for the safe recovery and the assistance of tribal elders was being sought as well. Spokesman Nafees Zakaria had earlier confirmed that crew was safe and will be recovered soon.

However, the Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhiwal refused to confirm the reports, and said that they are trying to verify the news of their recovery.

The crew members includes Colonel (retd) Safdar, Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Shafeeq, Lieutenant (retd) Nasir, Crew Chief Kausar, and a civilian Daud along with Russia pilot Sergei Tainov.

The Russian-made MI-17 helicopters which are used by the Pakistan Army have a checkered history of several crashes. In February, an army officer was killed when a military helicopter crashed in northern Pakistan on a routine night training mission.

Last August, 12 people were killed when a helicopter belonging to the army crashed in north-west Pakistan. In May 2015, seven people including two foreign ambassadors died when their helicopter crashed at a holiday resort in Gilgit.

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