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Officials: Taliban fighters kill 3 people, arrest 16 after helicopter emergency landing


KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents on Tuesday ambushed a military-contracted helicopter that made an emergency landing in northwest Afghanistan, killing three people in a shootout and capturing 16 other people on board, Afghan officials said.

Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri confirmed the helicopter had gone down in Faryab, a province that has experienced heavy fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. He would not say where the helicopter was headed or who was on board, and it was not immediately clear why the helicopter was forced to land there.

But an army officer in Faryab, insisting on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media, said the civilian aircraft had been contracted to transport army personnel. He said that after it landed, Taliban fighters rushed to the area, sparking the shootout and then arresting everyone on board. They later burned the chopper, he added.

"Three people have been killed and 16 others are captured by Taliban," said Ramatullah Turkistani, a member of the provincial council in Faryab.

Elsewhere in the country, a provincial director from Afghanistan's national tax office was killed by Taliban insurgents in the eastern Ghazni province, said Mohammad Ali Ahmedi, Ghazni's deputy governor.

He said that insurgents stopped the director's vehicle, dragged him out and shot him dead as he was on his way to his office.

The Taliban, responsible for thousands of deaths since launching their insurgency after their regime was toppled in a 2001 U.S. invasion.

Meanwhile in two separate blasts in the capital Kabul, six civilians were killed and six others were wounded, said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

"The first explosion happened when a pressure cooker full of explosives detonated in western part of the city, killing three civilians," he said, adding that three other civilians were killed and six wounded in a bombing elsewhere in the city.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Bombings and especially roadside bombs are a major threat to both Afghan security forces and civilians across the country.

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