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Three Moldovans Among Missing In Afghan Helicopter Crash

The Moldovan government says that three of its citizens were among the people captured by the Taliban after their helicopter crash-landed in northern Afghanistan.

Acting Moldovan Prime Minister Gheorghe Brega said on November 25 that the three crew members -- two pilots and an engineer -- of the civilian helicopter were Moldovans and were among those who are missing.

The helicopter crash-landed in Faryab Province on November 24 after experiencing mechanical difficulties. There were 21 people on board, Brega said. Three people -- two Afghans and one foreigner -- were reportedly killed in an exchange of gunfire with Taliban militants.

A local Taliban official later claimed that 15 people had been captured from the helicopter and threatened to kill them "if the army doesn't stop" its rescue attempts. Afghan officials believe there are 18 hostages.

An Afghan police source said there were two foreign soldiers among the missing. The Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter was privately owned and was working under contract to the Afghan Army.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Moldovan Service and AFP