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    UN-contracted helicopter captured by Al-Shabab militants in central Somalia

    Xinhua
    A UN-contracted helicopter with nine passengers was seized by Al-Shabab militants Wednesday after an emergency landing due to technical reasons in central Somalia.
    Xinhua

    A UN-contracted helicopter with nine passengers was seized by Al-Shabab militants Wednesday after an emergency landing due to technical reasons in the group-controlled territory in central Somalia, the mission confirmed.

    Sources said Al-Shabab had captured the helicopter, and are holding at least six hostages, while two others escaped and one was reportedly killed.

    The UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) confirmed on Wednesday evening that the helicopter was conducting an air medical evacuation in the Galguduud region when the incident occurred.

    "The UN is in the process of gathering all relevant information. Response efforts are underway. More information will be shared when it becomes available," UNSOM said in a statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

    The sources said the aircraft was carrying weapons at the time of the emergency landing.

    The United Nations has temporarily suspended flights in the vicinity until further notice.

    Al-Shabab militants occupied Mogadishu in 2009 and were driven out by Somali government forces backed by the African Union in 2011, but are still capable of holding foreign hostages and conducting attacks against government buildings, hotels, restaurants, and other public places.

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