Afghan Taliban Saturday (today) set free six crew members of a Punjab government helicopter, which crashed in Afghanistan last week.
The crew “was released in an inter-tribe exchange on the Pakistan-Afghan border (and) arrived in Islamabad today”, foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said in a statement.
All crew members are safe and in good health, the statement added.
A Pakistani security official confirmed that the crew members were handed over to authorities in Kurram Agency on Friday.
According to the reports, the crew members were handed over to tribal elders at Para Chinar, Khurran Agency.
According to reports, the crew has reached Islamabad. It is also learnt that Afghan authorities also handed over the chopper to Pakistani authorities.
The crew included five Pakistanis and one Russian technician, were presumed to have been taken hostage by the Taliban.
An Afghan tribal jirga had been involved in negotiations with Pakistani tribal elders in the border region over the past few days.
Earlier, at least seven people were being held hostage by Afghan Taliban after a Punjab government helicopter made an emergency landing in Afghanistan over unknown reasons on Thursday.
The helicopter MI-17 carrying six Pakistani engineers was travelling to Uzbekistan before it crash landed in Logar area of Afghanistan.
The plane was set on fire by the Afghan Taliban, who also held Pakistani officials and a Russian pilot hostage.
Sources said that the plane was being sent to Uzbekistan for overhauling.
However, some residents in the area said it was the Taliban who set the chopper on fire after it crashed and took the aircraft’s occupants hostage.
The staff included Colonel (r) Safdar, Lieutenant Colonel (r) Shafeeq, Major (r) Safdar, Lieutenant Colonel (r) Nasir and Constable (r) Kosar and Russian navigator Sergei.
Following the crash, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif called the commander of US troops in Afghanistan and asked him to help recover the crew. The Afghan government and Afghan National Army had also been contacted in this regard.