Afghan Taliban: Foreign captives from helicopter moved to ‘safe area’

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Foreigners abducted by Taliban fighters in eastern Afghanistan have been moved to a “safe area” inside the country and are well, a spokesman for the militants said Tuesday.

The group of 11 foreigners, including 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. They are inside Afghanistan,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP news agency by phone and from an undisclosed location.

Asked what would happen to the group, he said: “The Taliban leadership will decide.”

The Mi-8 helicopter carrying Turkish road engineers landed in Azra district of Logar province south of Kabul, 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.”

Turkey confirmed on Monday that eight of its nationals were abducted by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan after their helicopter made an emergency landing and said it was holding “intensive talks” with Kabul.

“The Turkish embassy is holding intensive talks with Afghan authorities to find out their whereabouts,” a foreign ministry diplomat told AFP. He said there was no information about their well-being.