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Taliban capture 10 after chopper makes emergency landing

By Qadir Sediqi, CNN
April 23, 2013 -- Updated 1005 GMT (1805 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: On board are 7 Turkish engineers, 2 Russian pilots and an Afghan pilot
  • Chopper is headed to Kabul from Khost
  • It develops equipment malfunction, an official says
  • In text message to news outlets, Taliban says it forced the chopper to land

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Taliban insurgents seized an Afghan pilot and nine foreign nationals from a transport helicopter after it was forced to make an emergency landing late Sunday night in eastern Afghanistan, authorities said.

The private helicopter, that was used to carry food and other items for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), was headed to Kabul from a NATO base in Khost province when it was forced to land in Azra district in neighboring Logar province, said the district's governor, Hamidullah Hamid.

On board were seven Turkish engineers and three pilots: an Afghan and two Russians. Because it's not always safe to travel by road in areas with heavy militant activity, engineers and others will often hitch rides in helicopters delivering supplies.

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The aircraft landed in Logar because of equipment malfunction, said Din Mohammad Darwesh, the spokesman for the Logar province's governor.

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The Taliban immediately surrounded the chopper and took the nine occupants hostage.

Local officials enlisted the help of tribal elders to secure their release, Darwesh said.

The Taliban, in a text message to news outlets, said the group forced the helicopter down.

John Manley, an ISAF spokesman, would only say that a civilian aircraft went down in eastern Afghanistan and that the alliance was "assisting."

The Turkish foreign ministry said it could not confirm the involvement of the Taliban or whether several of its citizens had been taken hostage. It said it was looking into the reports and will have more information later Monday.

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CNN's Gul Tuysuz contributed to this report.

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