A Turkish civilian helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in a Taliban-controlled area of eastern Afghanistan, and the insurgents took all nine people aboard the aircraft hostage, including eight Turks, officials said Monday.
The transport helicopter landed in strong winds and heavy rain on Sunday in a village in the Azra district of Logar province, southeast of Kabul and 30 km from the Pakistan border, said district governor Hamidullah Hamid.
Taliban fighters then captured all nine aboard the helicopter and took them from the area, Hamid told The Associated Press. He said most of the nine civilian hostages are Turks but that one is an Afghan translator.
In Ankara, a spokesman at Turkey’s Foreign Ministry told the AP that there were eight Turks aboard the helicopter but did not know if it also was carrying other civilians or what their nationalities were. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with ministry regulations, had no information about the condition of the civilians.
Turkey’s semi-official Anadolu news agency quoted Logar Deputy Police Chief Resishan Sadik Abdurrahminzey as saying that “a large number” of policemen were being sent to the region to rescue the hostages.
NATO said the helicopter went down on Sunday, but the International Security Assistance Force did not have any other details. ISAF spokeswoman Erin Stattel said the coalition was assisting in the recovery of the aircraft. She could not say whether the helicopter made a precautionary landing or the Taliban had forced it down.
Logar Deputy Police Chief Rais Khan Abdul Rahimzai said he didn’t know what kind of cargo the helicopter was carrying, where it was headed, or whether it was working for NATO.