November 24, 2015 / 2:37 PM / in 4 years

Taliban capture 13 Afghan soldiers after helicopter crash: police

KABUL (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents captured 13 Afghan government soldiers on Tuesday after their helicopter crashed in territory under the militants’ control, police said. Three soldiers were killed in the crash.

Sayed Aqa Saqeb, police chief for the northern province of Faryab where the transport helicopter went down, said it was not clear why it crashed.

Security forces had launched an operation to rescue the men, he said.

The militants, fighting to expel foreign forces and bring down the U.S.-backed government, have made gains over the past year outside their southern and eastern heartlands and into northern areas including Faryab.

An army spokesman in northern Afghanistan said he had no information about a helicopter crash.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not comment on the incident itself but denied claims on Twitter that any U.S. military personnel had been captured.

Taliban spokesmen were not available for comment.

Reporting by Bashir Ansari and Mirwais Harooni, additional reporting by Phil Stewart in WASHINGTON; Editing by Robert Birsel and Mike Collett-White

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