ISLAMABAD: The crew members of Punjab Government’s Mi 17 helicopter that had crash-landed in Afghanistan have safely returned to Islamabad today.

Seven people were taken hostage by the Taliban militants after the helicopter crash-landed in Logar province on 4th August.

After being released by the Taliban on Friday, the crew members were handed over to the Pakistani authorities in Kurram Agency.

The Pakistani authorities said the helicopter crashed while it was flying to Russia for maintenance and seven crew members, including a Russian navigator, were taken hostage by a group of militants.

A Pakistani security official confirmed that the crew members were handed over to authorities in Kurram Agency on Friday.

Both Russian and Pakistani governments have been making efforts for the release of the hostages. The Afghan government also initiated an operation for identification of the captors and rescue of the hostages.

The release of the of the crew was made possible through talks between tribal jirgas on both sides of the border, sources confirmed.

Earlier, a senior Afghan Taliban commander, speaking on condition of anonymity said  that the passengers — six Pakistanis and a Russian technician — were in their custody and that negotiations for their release were ongoing.

"They are being looked after, being provided tea, food, everything," he said. "We are in touch with the Pakistani officials. We conveyed to them that they are in safe hands."

Following the crash, COAS Gen Raheel Sharif had immediately called Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan General Nicolson and had asked him to help in the recovery of the helicopter crew.

The army chief also called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last week and asked him to help in organising a safe and early recovery of the hostages.