Taliban Take Credit for Fatal Pakistani Helicopter Crash
A helicopter crash killed seven in Pakistan on Friday, and now the Taliban is taking credit for it.
The Pakistan Taliban is taking credit for shooting down a Pakistan military helicopter Friday morning, killing seven passengers, including ambassadors from the Philippines and Norway and the wives of the ambassadors from Malaysia and Indonesia.
The army helicopter was on its way to Naltar, in northern Pakistan, for the inauguration of a 180-seat ski-lift that was donated by Switzerland and installed by the Pakistani military. The chairlift project the envoys were on their way to visit, which was completed in August, is supposed to be boost tourism in the region, which is not normally considered to be a Taliban stronghold.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was slated to meet the group in Naltar for the ceremony. The doomed helicopter never made it; instead, it crashed while attempting to make an landing in the mountainous Giglit-Baltistan territory.
Two pilots and a crew member were also killed, and five others, including envoys from Poland and the Netherlands, were injured.
Pakistan’s Air Force chief said Friday that initial reports indicate the deadly MI-17 crash was an accident.
But a Pakistan Taliban spokesman who posted on an Urdu-language website Friday said a “Special Task Force” was responsible for shooting it down. The post was translated by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online jihadist messaging. According to the spokesman’s message, the Taliban used a shoulder-fired missile to target the helicopters.
He claimed Sharif was the initial target, but that he survived because he was in a second helicopter that was not struck by the missile. It was not immediately clear if the two helicopters were indeed traveling in a convoy, but the Taliban claim — if true — would raise alarms in Washington because of fears that the group might now be able to successfully target American military helicopters in neighboring Afghanistan.
FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images