ISLAMABAD: A Punjab government Mi-17 helicopter crash landed on Thursday in Afghanistan’s Logar province where Taliban insurgents took the crew hostage before setting the helicopter on fire.
DawnNews reported the helicopter had seven people onboard at the time of the incident, and was on its way for maintenance to Uzbekistan.
Afghanistan’s TOLO News, however, reported the helicopter belonged to Pakistan military.
Quoting spokesman for Logar province’s governor, it said that the helicopter crashed in the Mati area of Azra district.
What we know so far
- Punjab government’s Mi-17 helicopter crash lands in Afghanistan’s Logar province
- Taliban sets it on fire; some reports say it caught fire as it crashed
- 7 crew members on board survive crash; Taliban take them hostage
- Foreign Office trying to contact Afghan officials to get more information
Gen Raheel seeks help from US commander
Army Chief General Raheel Sharif called Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan General Nicolson and asked him to help in the recovery of the helicopter crew, said Inter-Services Public Relations.
"Gen Nicolson has assured all possible help in this regard," said the military's spokesperson, Lt Gen Asim Bajwa.
Giving details about the incident, Lt Gen Bajwa confirmed that seven people were on board the helicopter including retired military officers and a Russian navigator.
Afghan government and Afghan National Army authorities have also been contacted for necessary assistance in recovery of the crew members, Bajwa added.
"The helicopter was being sent to Uzbekistan for overhauling when it crashed in Azra district, in the restive Afghan province of Logar," said a Punjab government official.
There were conflicting reports on how the helicopter caught fire. Some eyewitnesses told local news agencies that the helicopter appeared to have caught fire during landing while some residents said the Taliban set it on fire.
According to DawnNews, all seven crew members survived the crash. Six members of the Punjab government and a Russian engineer were on board the helicopter, it added.
Pakistan Foreign Office is trying to contact Afghan officials to get more information on the incident.
The Taliban militant group, however, has so far not commented on the incident.
Know more: Mi-17 was fully airworthy, says army
Crashes of Mi-17 helicopter
Air accidents involving Mi-17 in Pakistan include:
- 2004 crash near Karak in which 13 soldiers were killed
- 2007 crash near Muzaffarabad on the occasion of inauguration of development projects
- Crash in Kurram Agency, 2009, in which 41 people were killed
- Crash in Skardu in 2012 in which five people died
- Seven people including Norway, Philippines envoys died in Mi-17 crash, May 2015, in Naltar Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan
- Military helicopter crashed near Mansehra in August 2015, killing all 12 on board
- An Mi-17 crashed near Tarbela, February 2016, killing one military official