Taliban seizes soldiers after chopper crash

  • 25/11/2015

Fifteen soldiers including two foreigners were taken hostage by the Taliban after their helicopter crash-landed in northern Afghanistan, local officials and militant sources say.

The helicopter went down on Tuesday (local time) after experiencing technical problems, local officials said, and 15 people on board were seized by the militant group, including two foreign soldiers whose nationality is yet to be confirmed.

Three people were also killed in the crash, which happened in the Pashtun Kot district of Faryab province, an area near the border with Turkmenistan that is partly controlled by the Taliban.

The Afghan army launched an operation late Tuesday to try and rescue the group, but was forced to abandon the raid after facing strong resistance from the insurgents.

"We captured 15 [people]. If the army doesn't stop [its rescue attempts] we will execute them," Damullah Wakil, a local Taliban official, said.

Provincial police chief Sayed Aqa Andarabi said: "The helicopter had a technical problem and had to crash land. Three people were killed."

Another police source, who declined to be named, added: "They captured 15 passengers of the helicopter. Among them are two foreigners."

Reza Razayee, Afghan army spokesman in Faryab province, confirmed that all of the 15 people seized were soldiers.

The US-led NATO coalition, which has 13,000 foreign troops in the country, declined to comment on the incident.

A US defence official said there were no American personnel on board.

Faryab province has in recent months been the scene of bitter fighting between Afghan security forces and Islamist insurgents, who are increasingly active in northern Afghanistan.