4 Ukrainian citizens were among those captured when a helicopter went down in Somalia this week

Jan 13, 2024, 7:04 AM | Updated: 7:14 am

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ukraine’s foreign affairs ministry says that four of its citizens were among those captured by al-Qaida-linked extremists in Somalia after their helicopter that was contracted by the United Nations made an emergency landing in territory controlled by the militants earlier this week.

Officials say the helicopter went down on Wednesday because of engine failure and was then attacked by al-Shabab militants who killed one person and abducted the other passengers.

“Our citizens were members of the helicopter crew of the United Nations Mission in Somalia that crashed,” said Oleh Nikolenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian foreign affairs ministry said Friday in a Facebook post.

The helicopter belongs to a Ukrainian private company, which executed a contract for transport on the order of the United Nations, he said.

Along with the Ukrainians, there were also five foreigners on board, Nikolenko said, without giving their nationalities.

An aviation official said earlier this week that medical professionals and soldiers were on board the helicopter that had been headed to Wisil town for a medical evacuation when it was forced to land in a village in Galmadug on Wednesday.

The minister of internal security of Galmudug state in central Somalia, Mohamed Abdi Aden Gaboobe, told The Associated Press by phone on Thursday that the helicopter made the landing because of engine failure in Xindheere village.

He said that six foreigners and one Somali national were on board and one was shot dead while trying to escape. One was missing. Different sources give varying figures for the number of occupants in the helicopter, ranging between seven and nine. The AP hasn’t been able to verify the exact number of people on board the helicopter.

The extremists then burnt the helicopter after confiscating what they thought was important, the Galmudug minister said.

Al-Shabab, al-Qaida’s East Africa affiliate, has been blamed for the attack, but the group hasn’t claimed responsibility.

Separately, the United Nations in Somalia strongly condemned a mortar attack that al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for, in which a member of the U.N. Guard Unit was killed on Thursday.

A number of mortar rounds landed inside the Aden Adde International Airport area, in which the U.N. compound is located, on Thursday night, according to a statement from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Somalia, or UNSOM. In addition to the death of a U.N. Guard Unit member, the mortar rounds damaged infrastructure, the statement added.

Al-Shabab has intensified attacks on Somali military bases in recent months after it lost control of some territory in rural areas during a military offensive that followed the Somali president’s call for “total war” on the fighters.

Al-Shabab still controls parts of southern and central Somalia and continues to carry out attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and other areas while extorting millions of dollars a year from residents and businesses in its quest to impose an Islamic state.

The widespread insecurity means the U.N. and other humanitarian entities travel around Somalia by air. The U.N. mission in the Horn of Africa nation offers humanitarian assistance in a country periodically hit by deadly drought and with one of the world’s least developed health systems.

The U.N. mission also supports a 19,000-strong multinational African Union peacekeeping force that has begun a phased withdrawal from the country with the aim of handing over security responsibilities in the coming months to Somali forces, who have been described by some experts as not ready for the challenge.

Last month, Somalia’s government welcomed the U.N. Security Council’s vote to lift the arms embargo imposed on the country more than three decades ago, saying it would help in the modernization of Somali forces.


Omar Faruk contributed to this report from Mogadishu, Somalia.


Associated Press

Man charged in shooting that critically wounded Philadelphia officer, police say

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 36-year-old Philadelphia man was charged Sunday with attempted murder in connection with a shooting that critically wounded a police officer after a traffic stop, police said. Ramon Rodriguez Vazquez also faces charges that include aggravated assault and home invasion, police said. The 31-year-old officer and his partner stopped a car carrying […]

17 hours ago

Associated Press

Senate in Massachusetts passes bill curtailing use of plastics including bags, straws

BOSTON (AP) — The state Senate in Massachusetts has passed a wide-ranging bill curtailing the use of plastics, including barring the purchase of single-use plastic bottles by state agencies. The bill, approved Thursday, also bans carry-out plastic bags at retailers statewide and require stores to charge 10 cents for recycled paper bags. It also requires […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

A U.S. envoy visits Hanoi days after Putin, saying US-Vietnam trust is at ‘all-time high’

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A senior U.S. diplomat held talks in Vietnam on Saturday and said that the trust between the two countries was at an “all-time high,” just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Hanoi. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink insisted that his […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

Trump endorses Ten Commandments in schools, implores evangelical Christians to vote in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump told a group of evangelicals they “cannot afford to sit on the sidelines” of the 2024 election, imploring them at one point to “go and vote, Christians, please!” Trump also endorsed displaying the Ten Commandments in schools and elsewhere while speaking to a group of politically influential evangelical Christians in […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

US will ‘gradually’ resume avocado inspections in conflictive Mexican state, ambassador says

MEXICO CITY (AP) — U.S. government inspections of avocados and mangoes in the Mexican state of Michoacan will “gradually” resume, U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar announced Friday, a week after they were suspended over an assault on inspectors. The U.S. Agriculture Department inspectors “will gradually begin to return to the packing plants following recent aggression against […]

3 days ago

Associated Press

Ex-CEO of Nevada-based health care company Ontrak convicted of $12.5 million insider trading scheme

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The former CEO and chairman of Ontrak, a publicly traded health care company based in Nevada, was found guilty Friday of a multimillion-dollar insider trading scheme. A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted Terren Scott Peizer, a resident of Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California, of one count of securities fraud […]

3 days ago

4 Ukrainian citizens were among those captured when a helicopter went down in Somalia this week