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Two Moldovan Pilots Freed From Afghan Captivity

The two Moldovan pilots are seen in an undated video released by the Taliban.
The two Moldovan pilots are seen in an undated video released by the Taliban.

Two Moldovan pilots have been freed after spending 3 1/2 years in captivity in Afghanistan, President Igor Dodon has announced.

"At the end of the week or the beginning of next week, I'll fly to Moscow to return with the aviators to Chisinau," Dodon told reporters on February 11 in the Moldovan capital.

The two pilots were staying at a Moscow hospital and their condition was "satisfactory," he said.

The two pilots were captured by the Taliban when their Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter crash-landed in the northern Afghan province of Faryab in November 2015. The privately owned helicopter was reportedly providing airlift support to the Afghan Army.

A third Moldovan crew member was killed.

Dodon, who has fostered close ties between Chisinau and Moscow, said the two pilots were freed on February 9 following several months of negotiations.

Their release was achieved "only because of the help provided by the leadership of the Russian Federation, which had responded to my personal request," the Moldovan president said.

With reporting by dpa and AFP
NOTE: This article has been amended to reflect the fact that the helicopter in question was not on a UN assistance mission as previously stated.

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