Foreign nationals are believed to have died in a shooting by Taliban militants after a Moldovan helicopter contracted by the United Nations for a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan crash-landed in the northern Faryab province.

The Moldovan Interior Ministry said on Wednesday there were three of its nationals on board the chopper. According to Sputnik, a total of 18 people including the three Moldovan nationals were taken hostage.

The Afghan National Army (ANA), which later launched a rescue operation, said at least 13 of its soldiers were feared to have been taken hostage by the Taliban, reported Khaama Press.

The Mi-17, which was carrying military personnel, was forced to land in the Faryab province  after suffering a technical problem. But as the helicopter descended into the Taliban-controlled area, militants began firing indiscriminately at it.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said a total of five people were killed and 15 others — mostly soldiers — were "arrested". However, Ramatullah Turkistani, a member of the provincial council in Faryab, told The Associated Press three people were killed.

There is no information yet on whether if there were any Americans on the helicopter.

In August, the Taliban had killed 17 people after an ANA helicopter crashed in the southern Zabul province of Afghanistan.