UN Helicopter, 9 staff captured by Al-Shabaab in Somalia: What we know so far.

The United Nations in Somalia confirmed that a UN-contracted helicopter, engaged in air medical evacuation, was captured by the Al-Qaeda-linked terror group Al-Shabaab on Wednesday.

The helicopter, which initially departed from Mogadishu, was destined for Wisil but landed in Xiindheere, a village controlled by Al-Shabaab, as per district officials in Cadaado town.

The UN has not disclosed the exact reason for the incident, with conflicting reports suggesting it was either hit by an enemy missile or faced a “technical glitch.”

“The helicopter was conducting an air medical evacuation. The UN is in the process of gathering all relevant information. Response efforts are underway. More information will be shared when it becomes available,” said a statement issued by UN Office in Mogadishu late on Wednesday night.

According to an internal UN memo, nine passengers, including military personnel and a third-party contractor, were on board, and at least six were seized by Al-Shabaab.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed the incident, stating, “Response efforts are underway,” but provided no further details for the safety of those on board. All UN flights in the vicinity have been temporarily suspended.

The helicopter, reportedly carrying medical supplies and ammunition for local militia and government forces in Mudug, was supposed to transport injured soldiers from Galguduud region back to Mogadishu, according to a Somali official in Cadaado town.

Al-Shabaab has not commented on the incident, and the fate of the nine individuals on board remains unknown.

This incident follows a similar one in August 2023, raising concerns about a possible plot and prompting calls for investigation.

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