Armed group seizes UN helicopter in Somalia

The seized helicopter was carrying a medical evacuation.

In central Somalia, the armed Islamist group al-Shabab has reportedly seized a United Nations-contracted helicopter involved in a medical evacuation.

The incident, confirmed by the UN’s mission in Somalia (Unsom) as an “aviation incident,” occurred about 70km southeast of Dhusamareb.

While the UN memo on the incident mentioned a crash-landing and the involvement of third-party contractors, it did not specify al-Shabab’s role. The group controls significant portions of southern and central Somalia and has been engaged in a prolonged insurgency affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Galmudug region Security Minister Mohamed Abdi Adan confirmed the helicopter’s seizure, revealing that foreigners and locals were onboard, transporting medical supplies and injured soldiers.

Reports suggest one passenger was killed, while two others managed to escape. The helicopter, en route to Wisil town for a government offensive against al-Shabab, landed in the group’s territory.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) clarified that the captured aircraft was not affiliated with WFP or the UN Humanitarian Air Service, ensuring no WFP personnel were onboard. As a precautionary measure, WFP temporarily suspended flights in the area.

The exact number and nationalities of those onboard remain undisclosed. Somalia’s intensified efforts against al-Shabab in recent months reflect the government’s commitment to combatting the long-standing insurgency waged by the group, which has affiliations with al-Qaeda.

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