World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkey is not seeking to rescue eight Turkish hostages recently captured by the Taliban by means of a ransom but by keeping in contact with Afghan officials, the Turkish minister of foreign affairs has said.
Noting that Turkey, like many other countries, would not, in principle, be involved in negotiations with the Taliban for the release of the hostages, Ahmet Davutoğlu said, in response to a written parliamentary question submitted by Mehmet Şeker, a Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy, that Turkey has been making efforts to ensure the captives' freedom through official channels.
Eight Turkish citizens, engineers and officials of a construction company, together with an Afghan interpreter and two pilots from Kyrgyzstan and Russia, were in a Russian Mi-8 helicopter when it had to make an emergency landing in a remote part of Logar province in the eastern part of the country on account of bad weather on Sunday afternoon. When news of the hostage situation broke, the Turkish ambassador in Kabul contacted Afghan officials to ensure their safe release.
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sadiq Siddiqui said at a press conference on Wednesday that they have been doing their best to ensure the safe release of the 11 hostages. “We have been closely following the issue through the Security Directorate, the governor in Logar and tribal leaders,” he said at the press conference in Kabul, according to the İhlas news agency. Noting that the safety of the hostages was the prime issue and that for this reason it was not possible to reveal all the details, Siddiqui said that he was not in a position to confirm that the chopper was shot down by the Taliban. “According to preliminary information we have, it had to make an emergency landing due to bad weather,” he added.
The family of Erkan Kaya, one of the Turkish citizens abducted by the Taliban, is anxiously awaiting news at their home in Adana. “I've been praying for my son to return home safe and sound,” Türkan Kaya, the mother of Erkan Kaya, said in tears. Türkan Kaya, who has not slept for the last three days, asked Turkish officials to save her son, who is a father of three.
Tribal leaders in the area have been conducting negotiations with the Taliban for the release of hostages. İhlas Agency on Tuesday quoted Din Mohammed Dervish, spokesperson for the governor of Afghanistan's Logar province, as saying: “Tribal leaders play an important role in the issue. We hope that the hostages will be released tonight [Tuesday].” However, no good news regarding the hostages had arrived before Today's Zaman went to print on Wednesday.
A Taliban spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that the hostages were in good health but denied that negotiations were ongoing between Taliban and tribal leaders. The Associated Press reported Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid as saying on Tuesday that the group was conducting an investigation into the 11 captives and were not engaged in negotiations for their release.
An official from Khorasan Cargo Airlines, the owner of the helicopter involved, told the Anatolia news agency on Tuesday that the Turkish engineers and company officials on the flight were working for the Turkey-based construction company MT. The eight were en route north to Kabul after examining work on construction sites in Khost province.
Last Mod: 25 Nisan 2013, 14:41