Thursday, June 28, 2012 -
Afghanistan state authorities have been holding two Tajik state-owned helicopters and their 12 crew members for a month, a Tajik flight engineer revealed Thursday.
“The helicopters worked in Afghanistan under contract and they were supposed to return home a month ago, but they were detained by the Afghan Ministry of Transport of Afghanistan,” Ilhom Qayumov told journalists, the independent Tajik news agency Asia-Plus reported.
The reasons behind the detention of the two Mi-8 helicopters belonging to Tajikistan’s airline flag carrier Tajik Air and their crews are unclear.
“The helicopters were allegedly going to leave the Kabul airport without preliminary permission of the control service of the Kabul airport,” said Qayumov.
The Afghan transport ministry has since withdrawn its charges and handed control to Afghanistan’s ministry of defense and security service.
The defense ministry has not provided any justifications for their continued detention, he said.
The crew members are currently under house detention on the edge of the Afghan capital Kabul.
The Tajik government has offered no explanation or comment on the seizure.
The Mi-8 is a medium-sized twin-turbine transportation aircraft. It is the most widely used helicopter in the world and operates in more than 50 countries. The Mi-8, known by NATO as Hip, can also be converted into a gunship.