2 Moldovan pilots held hostage by Taliban for 3.5 years in Afghanistan return home

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-08 00:11:12|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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BUCHAREST, March 7 (Xinhua) -- Two Moldovan pilots held hostage by Taliban in Afghanistan for three and a half years, returned to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, on Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration announced in a press release.

The health condition of the two pilots is good, but they will remain under physicians' supervision, said the ministry.

The state's authorities are taking care of the pilots, Lionel Buruiana and Mihai Crihan, at the moment and legal and administrative steps are to be made to ensure conditions of their reintegration, said the release.

Actually, the two pilots were freed from captivity on Feb. 9 and flown to a Moscow hospital for treatment.

Their release was possible "only with the help of the Russian leadership, Moldovan President Igor Dodon said on Feb. 11 when announcing the news to the public.

"For three and a half years they were kept in a pit in the ground, they did not see the sun," Dodon was quoted as saying then.

The pilots fell into the hands of the Taliban on Nov. 24, 2015, when their Russian-made helicopter, owned by a Moldovan company, was captured in Afghanistan after a forced landing.

The crew of the helicopter was made up of three Moldovan pilots and 18 military passengers from Afghanistan.

A third Moldovan, crew captain Oleg Groza, was killed in a firefight when the helicopter made a forced landing in Taliban-controlled territory.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said at the time two Afghans were also killed, while the rest of the crew and passengers were taken hostage.

The company said at that time that the aircraft was carrying out a United Nations assistance mission.