Foreign captives 'safe': Afghan Taliban

2013-04-23 11:02
Taliban soldiers (File, AP)

Taliban soldiers (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kabul - The Taliban said on Tuesday a group of overseas captives had been moved to a "safe area" following the largest abduction of foreigners in six years, highlighting Afghanistan's insecurity as Nato troops prepare to leave.

Afghan security forces were hunting for the group of eight Turks, a Russian, a Kyrgyz man and an Afghan, all seized after their helicopter made a forced landing on Sunday in a rugged district part-controlled by the insurgents.

"They have been moved to a safe area, they have no health problem and they are fine. They are inside Afghanistan," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said by phone from an undisclosed location.

The Mi-8 helicopter, carrying Turkish road engineers and with a Russian and Kyrgyz crew, landed in the Azra district of Logar province south of Kabul, not far from the border with Pakistan where the Taliban have rear bases.

Asked what would happen to the group, Mujahid said: "The Taliban leadership will decide."

The helicopter took off from Khost province on Sunday afternoon and was headed for Kabul when bad weather forced it to land.

Search on

The Taliban on Monday claimed that nine of the group were Americans and two were Afghan interpreters, but appeared Tuesday to back away from that assertion.

"We are still receiving information but initial information obtained from our mujahideen (holy warriors) said that they were American," the spokesperson said. "We will have to wait for more information."

Interior ministry spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said a search for the group had begun but declined to give details for security reasons.

"The incident is being investigated and we will make sure that they are safely freed," he said.

A government official said on condition of anonymity that authorities are trying to get tribal elders to negotiate with the Taliban, in preference to mounting a major military operation.

A Logar provincial government spokesperson, Din Mohammad Darvish, also said the focus was on talks.

Afghan troops, police on frontline

"The area is sealed off by security forces to prevent them moving out the hostages," Darvish said. "Efforts are underway to solve this through elders."

The Taliban were ousted from power in 2001 by a US-led invasion and have been battling Afghan troops and a US-dominated foreign military force ever since.

Afghan troops and police are increasingly on the frontline as foreign combat troops prepare to withdraw by the end of next year.

Around 73% of all insurgent attacks in January-March were against Afghan soldiers or police and only 4% against foreign forces, according to a study by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office.

The report, whose figures were disputed by officials, said insurgent attacks rose by 47% in the first quarter compared to January-March 2012.

The abduction sparked concern in Turkey, which said its diplomats were holding "intensive talks" with Afghan authorities.

ISAF ready to assist

"We hope that our nationals will be rescued as soon as possible and safely returned to the regions where they work," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters.

The US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) denies that any foreign military were aboard the helicopter and says it was a civilian flight.

An ISAF spokesperson said on Monday that Nato troops were ready to assist Afghan security forces but there had been no request so far.

Turkey, one of only two Muslim-majority members of Nato, has around 1 800 soldiers serving with ISAF. But unlike its European allies, their mission is limited to patrols and its troops do not take part in combat operations.

The last time a major group of foreigners was abducted in Afghanistan was in July 2007, when the Taliban seized 23 South Korean church volunteers travelling through the south by coach.

The militants killed two men before releasing the rest, reportedly in return for ransom payments.

Read more on:    taliban  |  nato  |  afghanistan

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.