Six crew members of a Punjab government helicopter, which crashed in Afghanistan last week, were released on Saturday and arrived in Islamabad.
The crew, which includes five Pakistanis and one Russian technician, were presumed to have been taken hostage by the Taliban.
Punjab govt helicopter crashes in Afghanistan, occupants held by Taliban
"The crew members were handed over to tribal elders at Parachinar, Kurram Agency," a source told The Express Tribune. An Afghan tribal jirga had been involved in negotiations with Pakistani tribal elders in the border region over the past few days.
"The crew members have been identified as "Captain Safdar Hussain (chief pilot), Captain Safdar Ashraf, Captain Muhammad Shafiq-ur-Rehman (first officer), Nasir Mahmood (flt engineer), Muhammad Kausar (crew chief) and Sergei Sevastianov (Russian navigator)," a press release issued by the Foreign Office stated.
Earlier on Thursday, reports by different TV channels citing sources claimed the crew have been rescued. Other reports still claimed that these men had been handed over to Pakistan and were on their way home.
A Pakistani helicopter heading to Russia for overhaul crash-landed in eastern Afghanistan earlier this month, officials said. Reports suggested that six people on board are feared to be abducted.
Taliban confirm all aboard crashed Punjab govt helicopter being held
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.
The Mi-17 transport helicopter crashed in Azra district, in the restive province of Logar, then caught fire, said the provincial governor’s spokesperson Salim Saleh. He added that no one was hurt in the crash.
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.