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Al Shabaab Militants Seize UN Helicopter Carrying ‘Several’ Foreigners

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A military official stated on Wednesday that Al Shabaab militants took control of a United Nations helicopter that was carrying two Somali men and several foreigners when it made an emergency landing in an area under their control.

Major Hassan Ali told Reuters that the aircraft had a malfunction shortly after taking off from Beledweyne city in central Somalia. It then made a landing close to Hindhere village, which borders the Galguduud region.

A UN-contracted helicopter performing an air medical evaluation was involved in an incident, which the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) later confirmed. It stated that investigations were underway and that it was compiling details about the incident.

Five foreigners made up the aircraft crew, according to an anonymous UN employee. British news agency Reuters was informed by two UN sources that are aware of the situation that the aircraft held nine passengers.

Since 2006, Al Shabaab, an organisation associated with al Qaeda, has been fighting the Somali government in an effort to establish its own government based on a rigid interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.

Since the mid-2010s, the government has been able to drive out the militants from a number of areas, but al Shabaab still holds significant territory in southern and central Somalia and has persisted in attacking civilian targets as well as military installations.

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