Foreigners feared kidnapped by Afghanistan Taliban


US soldiers from the 1st Platoon Alpha 3-71 cavalry prepare to walk downhill from an outpost in the Baraki Barak district of Logar Province on August 16, 2009.



Authorities are hunting for ten civilians who they believe have been kidnapped by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan.

Seven Turks, two Russians and one Afghan have been missing since bad weather forced their helicopter to make an emergency landing in the Azra district of Logar province, south of Kabul, on Sunday night.

The aircraft was later found empty, and the Taliban claimed they had seized its passengers.

"Mujahideen immediately surrounded the chopper, detained [the] foreigners aboard and completely destroyed the helicopter," one spokesman told Reuters.

The hostages "were captured alive and were then transferred to the most secure region of the nation," a statement on a Taliban website said.

Afghan authorities are in touch with local tribal elders to try and negotiate with the insurgents for the hostages' release, a government spokesman in Logar told the BBC.

Turkey is holding "intensive talks" with Kabul about the situation, a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman said.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said that it had assisted the search for the helicopter, without giving further details.

The Russian-made helicopter was reportedly chartered from Afghanistan's Khorasan Cargo Airlines to carry Turkish construction workers from the town of Khost to Kabul. The three others onboard were pilots and crew.

Logar province, near the border with Pakistan, has a strong insurgent presence.