Logar Province, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan
Logar Province, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Afghan security forces are making efforts to secure the safe release of the crew of a Pakistani helicopter that crashed inside Afghanistan last week while flying to Russia, Pakistani officials said Thursday.

“As informed by the Afghan side, the crew members are safe. The Afghan authorities have assured that they are making efforts through the elders in the area for recovery of all the crew members,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria told reporters Thursday in Islamabad.

The Russian-made MI-17 helicopter was flying through Afghan airspace with official permission from Kabul when it crash-landed in a remote district of Logar province, according to Afghan authorities.

Residents and officials said all the men on board survived but were taken hostage by Taliban insurgents because of a lack of government authority in the area. The insurgent group has so far not officially commented on whether it is holding the hostages.

Zakaria did not say who captured the six Pakistani aviation experts and their Russian navigator.

Members of the anti-state Pakistani Taliban, who are believed to be hiding in border areas of Afghanistan, have also denied involvement.