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Somalia: Al-Shabab Seizes UN Helicopter, Kills One, Abducts Others

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In Somalia, a United Nations helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing due to engine failure, leading to its capture by the terrorist group Al-Shabab. The incident occurred on Wednesday in Xindheere village- situated in the Galgudug region of the Galmudug state, a territory under Al-Shabaab control.

Of the nine passengers on board, which included at least one Somali national and several foreigners, six were taken hostage, two managed to escape, and one was tragically killed under unclear circumstances.

Major Hassan Ali who is based in the city of Beledweyne, from where the helicopter took off, confirmed the incident to the Reuters news agency.

“Two Somali men and several foreigners were onboard. It was also carrying medical supplies, and it was supposed to transport injured soldiers from the Galguduud region,” he said.

The UN has not mentioned that Al-Shabab was behind the abductions, nor has the Islamist insurgent group taken any credits.

Al-Shabab, a militant group linked to al-Qaeda, has been a persistent threat in Somalia, aiming to overthrow the government and implement a strict form of Sharia law. The group, known for its belligerence, commands a significant number of fighters and has continued its attacks against civilians and security forces despite military and financial crackdowns by the Somali government.

The helicopter, part of the U.N. Support Office in Somalia, was assisting the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia with logistical support, including medical evacuations. It had departed from Beledweyne and was en route to Wisil when the incident occurred.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and U.N. agencies are actively engaged in discussions and efforts to safely rescue the hostages. The UN is tight-lipped on details, but it has cited the safety of those on board as their primary concern.

The situation remains tense as efforts to negotiate the release of the hostages continue, heightening the ongoing conflict in the region.

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