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Al-Shabab captures UN helicopter in central Somalia

UN (United Nations Mission) helicopter carrying ‘several’ foreigners captured by al Shabaab in Somalia.

A helicopter belonging to the United Nations mission in Somalia has been captured by al-Shabab after it landed in territory held by the armed group.

Several passengers were reportedly taken by the al-Qaeda-linked group which has wreaked violence in the Horn of Africa for years.

The helicopter landed close to Gadoon village in the Galgaduud region due to a technical glitch, the memo stated. 

A UN official in Mogadishu also confirmed the incident on Wednesday.

According to the memo, there were nine passengers on the plane including military personnel and a third-party contractor. 

Six of them were reportedly taken by the group while 2 passengers escaped.

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“All UN flights have been temporarily suspended in the vicinity until further notice,” the memo read.

The helicopter encountered a defect shortly after taking off from Beledweyne city in central Somalia, Major Hassan Ali told 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.

While the government has managed to ward off the militants from several territories since the mid-2010s, al-Shabaab controls swathes of land in southern and central Somalia and has continued to target civilians and stage attacks on military establishments.

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