In an attack on Wednesday, Al-Shabaab militants targeted a United Nations (UN) helicopter that had made an emergency landing in the rebel-held territory of Xindheere village, Somalia. The incident occurred due to engine failure, with one passenger killed and five others abducted by the extremist group.

The helicopter, carrying six foreigners and one Somali national, was headed to Wisil town for a medical evacuation. According to the Minister of Internal Security of Galmudug state, one person was shot dead while attempting to flee, and another individual is currently missing.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric confirmed the incident but provided limited details to ensure the safety of those on board. The nationalities of the passengers are not immediately available.

Efforts are underway to respond to the situation, as Al-Shabaab continues to heighten attacks on Somali military bases after losing control of rural areas. The group still maintains control over parts of southern and central Somalia, conducting attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and extorting millions annually.

Widespread insecurity in Somalia requires UN and humanitarian entities to travel by air. The UN mission provides humanitarian aid in a country battling drought and a poorly developed health system.

The UN mission also supports the phased withdrawal of a 19,000-strong African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, aiming to hand over security responsibilities to Somali forces. However, some experts question the readiness of the Somali Forces for such a challenge.

Last month, Somalia’s government welcomed the UN Security Council’s vote to lift the arms embargo imposed on the country over three decades ago. The move aims to aid modernising Somali forces.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres discussed the situation with Somalia’s President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, including the recent agreement between Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland. Somalia’s president rejected the agreement and labelled it a violation of international law.

The Secretary-General emphasised the Security Council’s repeated affirmation of respecting Somalia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity. He urged all parties to engage in peaceful and constructive dialogue, refraining from actions that could further escalate the situation.