Taliban Press No Demands Yet for Captured Helicopter Crew

MOSCOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti) – The Taliban radical Islamist group has not yet made any demands for the release of foreigners, including a Russian national, captured after a helicopter force-landed in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, the Russian embassy in Kabul said on Monday.

“No, they have not yet tried to get in touch with us,” Stepan Anikeyev, the embassy’s press attaché, said when asked if the Taliban had made any demands.

A Russian pilot was among the crew and passengers on an Mi-8 helicopter which made an emergency landing in Afghanistan’s Logar province and were seized by the Taliban, the Russian embassy in Kabul said on Monday.

“There was one, not two [Russians aboard the helicopter]. We cannot confirm there were two. But we will find out,” a Russian diplomat said.

Anatolia news agency reported on Sunday that a helicopter carrying a group of foreign engineers working for Khorasan Logistics had to make a forced landing on Sunday evening in the Azra district of Logar province in eastern Afghanistan. The helicopter was flying from the city of Khost to the capital Kabul, according to Azra district governor Hamidullah Hamid, AFP reported.

Rais Khan Sadeq, deputy police chief of Logar province, told AFP the helicopter’s passengers and crew, including eight Turks and an Afghan national, were seized by the Taliban.

A source in Afghanistan-based air company Khorasan Cargo Airlines told RIA Novosti the helicopter was operated by a Russian national, Pavel Petrenko.

Khorasan has a fleet of five Mi-8 and three Mi-17 helicopters and one An-26 aircraft.

(Updated at 4:17 p.m. with new headline and lead and comment from embassy)


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