In­done­sia army chop­per pi­lot saved, 3 crew dead

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The pi­lot of an In­done­sian army he­li­copter has been res­cued alive three days af­ter the air­craft crashed on Bor­neo Is­land, an of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day, but three other crew mem­bers were found dead. The in­jured air­man was dis­cov­ered along with the wreck­age of the Bell 412 he­li­copter Sun­day, af­ter the air­craft went down on Thurs­day as it was trans­port­ing sup­plies to a re­mote army post near the Malaysian border. “The pi­lot had to be lifted with a rope be­cause the crash lo­ca­tion was dif­fi­cult to reach,” army spokesman Sabrar Fad­hi­lah said, adding he had been taken to hos­pi­tal for treat­ment. Search teams yes­ter­day found the bod­ies of three other male crew mem­bers fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of the wreck­age in moun­tain­ous ter­rain in North Kal­i­man­tan prov­ince, Fad­hi­lah said. Res­cuers are still search­ing for a fifth man who re­mains miss­ing in the re­mote area. It is just the lat­est crash for In­done­sia’s ac­ci­dent-prone mil­i­tary. Twelve peo­ple were killed in March when a mil­i­tary he­li­copter went down in bad weather on Su­lawesi in cen­tral In­done­sia.

A top Sikh mil­i­tant com­man­der was re­cap­tured by po­lice in the In­dian cap­i­tal Delhi yes­ter­day, a day af­ter he was freed in a dra­matic jail­break by a gang wear­ing po­lice uni­forms. Har­min­der Singh Min­too, who heads a Sikh sep­a­ratist group, was ar­rested on the out­skirts of Delhi some 200 kilo­me­ters from the high-se­cu­rity prison in Pun­jab where he had been re­manded on ter­ror charges.

“He was caught near Delhi yes­ter­day and will be brought to Pun­jab,” A S Cha­hal, a se­nior lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cial said. Four other inmates who also es­caped dur­ing the break­out-mem­bers of a lo­cal crim­i­nal gang jailed for mur­der-are still at large, Cha­hal added. Min­too, leader of the Khal­is­tan Lib­er­a­tion Force (KLF) - a mil­i­tant group fight­ing for a Sikh home­land in Pun­jab-was ar­rested in 2014 and was in jail await­ing trial for ter­ror­ism of­fences.

He was freed in an early morn­ing raid on Sun­day by at least 10 armed men wear­ing po­lice uni­forms. They stabbed one guard and opened fire be­fore flee­ing with the pris­on­ers in cars.

Three po­lice­men were in­jured in the as­sault, which prompted a mas­sive hunt for the fugi­tives. A woman was killed on a high­way a few miles from the prison when po­lice opened fire on her car af­ter the driver al­legedly failed to stop at a check­point. Po­lice later said she had no con­nec­tion with the es­capees. A 2.5 mil­lion ru­pee ($36,000) re­ward was of­fered for in­for­ma­tion on Min­too’s where­abouts. It was not clear if the bounty had played any part in his re­cap­ture yes­ter­day.

Three top prison of­fi­cers were sacked or sus­pended fol­low­ing the jail­break. Sun­day’s raid was the se­cond major prison break in In­dia in less than a month. In Oc­to­ber eight Is­lamist mil­i­tants es­caped from a jail in cen­tral Mad­hya Pradesh state. They were gunned down hours later in a shootout. The Sikh sep­a­ratist in­sur­gency in Pun­jab largely waned in the late 90s, but sev­eral groups re­main com­mit­ted to the Khal­is­tan move­ment and dozens of al­leged Sikh mil­i­tants are in prison. The bloody cam­paign-launched in the 1970s-claimed more than 20,000 lives, mostly civil­ian. — AFP

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