The Afghan army has launched an operation to rescue 18 hostages captured by the Taliban right after their helicopter crash-landed in the north, as the private firm operating the aircraft stated it was shot down.
The Taliban killed 3 of these on board — two Afghans and a foreigner — in an initial fire fight and took the rest captive after the crash on Tuesday, the Afghan defence ministry stated in a statement.
The 21 men and women on board included two Moldovan pilots and a Moldovan engineer, the country’s acting prime minister Gheorghe Brega told reporters in Chisinau.
He did not specify if the three have been dead or captured, but the Afghan defence ministry mentioned two foreigners were being held along with an unspecified number of Afghan soldiers.
The helicopter came down in the Pashtun Kot district of Faryab province, an area partly controlled by the militants.
The MI-17 was privately owned by the Valan ICC firm in Moldova, according to Mr Brega, and had been chartered by the Afghan army.
It created an emergency landing “due to technical causes” near Maimana, the capital of Faryab province, the defence ministry statement mentioned.
“Later they encountered battle with the enemy. As a outcome, two army soldiers and a single foreign national had been killed and 18 other folks on board arrested by armed opponents of the government,” it mentioned, with out specifying whether all the Afghans on board had been soldiers.
Even so Valan ICC mentioned in a statement its helicopter had been shot down.
“A distress signal from the crew was received. It informed the client that the helicopter had been attacked, that it had been shot and therefore went down and burned. There was an emergency landing,” organization chief Alexander Zagrebelny said in a statement.
Mr Zagrebelny stated the helicopter and its three crew had been transporting 18 Afghan safety force members at the request of the US State Department.
He denied there had been any technical difficulty.
“This is a virtually new helicopter in best condition,” he stated.
The Taliban, in a statement on their website on Wednesday, stated they had shot the helicopter down.
Moldova seeks US aid
The insurgents fought off an initial attempt on Tuesday by the Afghan army to rescue the surviving hostages, the ministry said. It mentioned a fresh attempt was launched on Wednesday but gave no immediate information.
The Taliban mentioned they had killed five folks and had been holding a further 15, and made no mention of any foreign hostages.
They stated the captives had “been taken to secure regions and are becoming investigated”.
Moldova does not have a diplomatic mission in the war-torn nation and its foreign ministry requested assistance from the United Nations, whilst Brega said his country had appealed to the US for support.
The US-led NATO coalition, which has 13,000 foreign troops in the country, has not yet commented on the incident.
Faryab province has in current months been the scene of bitter fighting among Afghan troops and police and Islamist insurgents, who are increasingly active in the north.
In late September the Taliban temporarily seized manage of the provincial capital of Kunduz — the very first time the group had taken handle of a main city since becoming toppled from power in 2001.
Galvanised by the short conquest, they launched assaults on other cities like Maimana, but had been pushed back by heavily armed local residents although regional security forces reportedly abandoned their posts.
The Taliban have in the previous shot down several military helicopters with little-arms fire.
In October a US F-16 was struck by enemy fire in eastern Afghanistan, in a rare case of an advanced jet fighter coming beneath a Taliban-claimed attack.
A Russian marine has been killed on a helicopter mission to rescue the crew of a jet downed by Turkey close to the Syrian border on Tuesday.
He died when his helicopter came beneath fire from rebels in northern Syria, where the plane crashed.
Rebel fire from the ground killed a single of the jet’s two crew members soon after they ejected.
The head of Nato stated it stood in solidarity with Turkey as the Kremlin warned of “significant consequences”.
Turkey mentioned the jet had strayed into its airspace but Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted the Su-24 had been hit by an air-to-air missile even though flying over Syrian territory.
Nato’s Secretary Common Jens Stoltenberg said he backed the Turks’ assessment.
“We stand in solidarity with Turkey and assistance the territorial integrity of our Nato ally, Turkey,” he said soon after an emergency meeting of the bloc. But he also named for each sides to de-escalate the circumstance.
President Putin described the downing of the plane as a “stab in the back”.
Breaking off military contacts with Turkey, Russia’s defence ministry said a cruiser equipped with an air defence program would be deployed in the Mediterranean to destroy “any targets representing a possible danger” for Russian forces in Syria.
Russian bombers carrying out air strikes more than Syria will now be escorted by fighters, the military stated.
Analysis: Mark Lowen, BBC Turkey correspondent
Following Turkey became the 1st Nato member to shoot down a Russian plane in over half a century, the question now is how will Moscow respond?
President Putin named Turkey an “accomplice of terrorists” and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cancelled a planned trip to Ankara on Wednesday.
But the UN and Nato have urged both sides to de-escalate the crisis. According to Ankara, the Russian Su-24 was warned ten times about entering Turkish airspace, although Moscow says there was no such communication.
But Turkey also stated the violation lasted just seventeen seconds. And offered signs that a united front was starting to kind against Islamic State, there will be diplomatic pressure on both sides to concentrate alternatively on the common threat from the militants.
The difficult talk from Ankara and Moscow will no doubt continue – but regardless of whether there will be critical retaliation is less clear.
Russian defence official Lt-Gen Sergey Rudskoy said the rest of the rescue group, which had been using two Mi-8 helicopters, had been safely evacuated from the area to Russia’s Humaymim air base close to Latakia in Syria.
“For the duration of the operation, one of the helicopters came below tiny-arms fire, was broken and created an emergency landing on neutral territory,” he said.
“One particular naval infantryman serving below contract was killed.”
A single of the helicopters was destroyed on the ground by “mortar fire” following generating an emergency landing, the Russian general stated.
Syrian rebels say they blew up the helicopter shortly after it landed with an anti-tank missile, releasing footage of the attack.
The fate of the Russian jet’s other crew member remains unknown.
Russians have been advised not to visit Turkey – a common tourist location – with Foreign Minister Lavrov saying the terror threat there was no significantly less than in Egypt, where a bomb attack brought down a Russian passenger plane final month.
One particular of Russia’s largest tour operators, Natali Tours, has suspended package holidays to Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his forces had been acting inside its guidelines of engagement.
“Everyone must respect the right of Turkey to defend its borders,” he said.
The US, the EU and the UN have all appealed for calm.
President Obama said it was essential to uncover out precisely what had occurred and to take measures to “discourage any type of escalation”.
But he mentioned the incident pointed to an “ongoing difficulty” with Russian action in Syria, saying if Russia had been targeting IS, rather than “moderate” Syrian opposition forces, such incidents would be unlikely.
Russia and Turkey have found themselves on opposing sides in Syria’s conflict, with Russia supporting its ally President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey calling for his ousting.