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Pilot of Moldovan helicopter downed in Afghanistan killed by Taliban — aviation officials

December 15, 2015, 21:11 UTC+3 CHISINAU
Thus, the civil aviation authorities disproved the words of Moldova’s acting PM who said last week that all of the helicopter’s crew members taken hostage are alive
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© EPA PHOTO AP POOL/DAVE MARTIN/DFM, Archive

CHISINAU, December 15. /TASS/. One of the pilots of the Moldovan helicopter that crashed in Afghanistan in late November was shot dead by Taliban, a spokesman for Moldova’s civil aviation administration told TASS on Tuesday.

"Pilot Oleg Groza, 55, died of four gunshot wounds in the chest. He was wounded when the helicopter came under Taliban gunfire from the ground. That was the reason for a crash landing," the spokesman said, adding that the pilot’s body was taken to a German hospital in Afghanistan where he was identified by representatives of Valan International Charter, a Moldovan company that owned the helicopter. The body will soon be taken to Moldova.

Thus, the civil aviation authorities disproved the words of Moldova’s acting Prime Minister George Brega who said last week that all of the helicopter’s crew members - two pilots and navigator — had been taken hostage and were alive. He pledged Afghanistan’s law enforcement bodies were taking measures to have them released.

Earlier, the Moldovan government restricted media access to the talks on hostage release due to security considerations.

A Moldovan helicopter contracted by the United States government was shelled in Afghanistan’s Faryab province controlled by Taliban on November 24. After sending a distress signal, the helicopter made an emergency landing. There were 21 people — 18 passengers and three crew members - onboard the rotorcraft. Afghan security officers reached the crash site to find four dead bodies. The rest were seized by Taliban gunmen. A video with the hostages was posted in the internet on the following day.

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