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Foreign Ministry: 4 Ukrainians on UN helicopter captured by Somali militants

by Martin Fornusek January 12, 2024 8:03 PM 2 min read
UN-appointed security at the Baidoa IDP settlement on Oct. 24, 2022, in Baidoa, Somalia. (Illustrative purposes only) (Giles Clarke/UNOCHA via Getty Images)
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Four Ukrainians were among the captured by Somali militants after local anti-governmental forces seized a UN helicopter, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko confirmed on Jan. 12.

Reuters reported that earlier this week, a UN-contracted helicopter on a medical evacuation mission, carrying nine people total, was forced to make an emergency landing near the Hindhere village, an area controlled by the Al-Shabaab Islamist militant group.

According to Nikolenko, the helicopter belongs to a private Ukrainian company that was carrying out a contract for the UN. The four Ukrainians captured were its crew members.

Other five passengers included nationals from Egypt, Uganda, and Somalia, Reuters said.

An internal UN memo seen by the news agency read that one passenger had already been killed, six were taken hostage by the Al Qaeda-affiliated group, and two had fled with their whereabouts unknown.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry instructed Ukraine's representation at the UN in New York and the embassy in Kenya to take all necessary measures. Ukraine does not have an embassy in Somalia, and the one in Nairobi is the closest permanent diplomatic office.

"We are determining all details of the accident and the capture, the condition of Ukrainians, and we are establishing communication with the company owning the helicopter to coordinate next steps," Nikolenko said.

Somalia's government said on Jan. 11 that it was working to rescue the hostages, but military officers warned that such actions would be difficult in a militant-controlled area.

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