Taliban take Afghan captives after chopper makes emergency landing
November 24, 2015
KABUL, Afghanistan — A helicopter carrying Afghan forces crash landed in Afghanistan’s northern Faryab province Tuesday and several on board were taken captive by the Taliban, Afghan and U.S. officials said.
The helicopter, a white MI-17, was hit by a rocket before it crash landed in the Ghaztepa area of Pashtunkot district, which has been controlled by Taliban for the past month, said Mohammed Reza Rezayee, spokesman for the Afghan National Army 1st brigade, 209th Corps.
There was a heavy Taliban presence in the area, he said. The Afghan army sent forces to rescue those on board, but the relief team was stopped about two miles from the scene by Taliban resistance.
A witness said the helicopter caught fire after landing and there were three dead at the scene and 14 captured. The Associated Press, quoting a member of the Faryab provincial council, reported 16 were captured.
Col Mohammed Bahadaur, Afghan Air Force spokesman, said the helicopter was operated by a private company, not the Afghan military.
A senior defense official at the Pentagon, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the helicopter was piloted by two contractors who were neither Afghan nor American, but their nationality was not known. He said the contractors were among those captured.
“We have received reports of a helicopter crashing in Faryab Province. We have no reports of Americans on board.” said Michael T. Lawhorn, spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, in the eastern province of Ghazni, a provincial director from the national tax office was dragged from his car and shot by insurgents, the AP reported.
In Kabul, six civilians were killed and six wounded in two bombings, according to the AP.
Zubair Babakarkhail and Stars and Stripes reporter Tara Copp contributed to this report.