Afghan Taliban say abducted foreigners 'fine'

Spokesman says abducted group moved to safe area while Taliban leadership to decide what to do.

    Taliban appeared to back away from assertion that nine of the group were Americans. [File: Al Jazeera]
    Taliban appeared to back away from assertion that nine of the group were Americans. [File: Al Jazeera]

    A group of foreigners abducted by Taliban in eastern Afghanistan are well and have been moved to a "safe area" inside the country, a spokesman for the militants has said. 

    The Taliban leadership will decide what to do with the group, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP news agency on Tuesday.

    Eight Turks, a Russian, a Kyrgyz man and an Afghan were seized after their helicopter made a forced landing on Sunday.

    They have been moved to a safe area, they have no health problem and they are fine.

    - Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman

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

    The Mi-8 helicopter carrying Turkish road engineers from the eastern city of Khost to Kabul landed in Azra district of Logar province, a hotbed of Taliban activity.

    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 mujahedeen (holy warriors) said that they were American," the spokesman said.

    "We will have to wait for more information."

    Assisted search

    The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul said on Monday the force assisted a search by Afghan authorities for a helicopter, but gave no further details. 

    A spokesman said it was a civilian aircraft and not part of ISAF.

    Hamidullah Hamid, governor of Azra district where the helicopter came down, said on Monday the aircraft belonged to a Turkish company which has a big project in Khost, but gave no further details. Local tribal elders are reportedly working to secure their release.

    Turkey, one of only two Muslim-majority members of NATO, has about 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.

    Ankara has historically close ties with Kabul and last September Turkey extended by one year its command of the part of the ISAF force which covers the region around the Afghan capital.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And Agencies


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