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Crew of Punjab Helicopter reached safely to Pakistan

14 August, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: Six crewmembers of the Punjab government’s helicopter that went missing in Afghanistan have arrived safely in Islamabad.

A Foreign Office spokesperson in a statement on Saturday confirmed that crewmembers of the MI-17 helicopter have returned to Pakistan safely. Crewmembers Capt Safdar Hussain (chief pilot), Capt Safdar Ashraf, Capt Muhammad Shafiqur Rehman (first officer), Nasir Mahmood (flight engineer), Muhammad Kausar (crew chief) and Russian navigator Sergei Sevastianov went missing after the helicopter crash-landed in Afghanistan on August 4. According to the FO, the crew was released following an inter-tribe exchange on the Pakistan-Afghan border in FATA. “They were further transported from FATA to Islamabad by a helicopter. All crewmembers are safe and in good health,” the FO spokesperson said.

The chopper made an emergency landing in a Taliban-controlled district of Logar province on August 4 while flying to Russia for maintenance. The crewmembers, including a Russian navigator, were taken hostage by a group of militants believed to be Afghan Taliban. On Friday, the Afghan media said that Taliban had released the crew of the Pakistani helicopter. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had also said on Friday that the crew was safe.

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