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October 9, 2001
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Pak seizes three Taleban helicopter gunships

Following a tip off by US airborne surveillance stations, Pakistan has seized three Taleban-owned helicopter gunships, which landed in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The choppers, flown by Taleban pilots, took off from unnamed airstrips in Paktia province in Afghanistan, bordering the tribal areas in NWFP - and landed at a location in Kurram area on Monday.

"They were immediately seized by the Pakistani authorities," the daily News reported.

The report, however, did not mention the fate of the pilots.

There was no official comment on the report either.

This was the first time that Pakistan took a military action of sorts against the Taleban after it withdrew support to the Afghan ruling militia following its refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden to the US.

The report quoting sources said that Taleban authorities had decided to move these helicopters from air strips in Khost and Gardez in the Paktia province once the US strikes began.

It said Pakistani authorities faced some resistance from tribal elders when they went to seize the helicopters to a Pakistani air force base.

Sources said air-borne surveillance aircraft of the US navy had picked the movement of these helicopters on Monday and had passed the information to Pakistan with a request that the 'helicopters be intercepted or seized immediately', it said.

PTI

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