Somalia: Al-Shabab captures a UN-helicopter

Featured image: Al-Shabab fighters. Source:

The Somali armed group al-Shabab has captured a UN helicopter and at least eight people, many of them foreigners, who were traveling in the helicopter. One crew member was killed. The helicopter made an emergency landing on al-Shabab controlled territory.

The US-dominated imperialist instrument UN supports a 19,000-soldier African Union ”peace-keeping mission” in Somalia. The helicopter was transporting supplies to soldiers in the frontlines in the Galguduud area, where the armed forces of the Somalian Federal Government (SFG) and the ”peace-keepers” have launched an offensive against al-Shabab which controls large areas of southern and central Somalia. The UN has informed that the helicopter was ”not on a humanitarian mission.”

The al-Shabab is an armed group, which emerged in the 1990s and gained larger mass support in 2006 waging war of resistance against the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. After the invasion it started waging war against the Somalian federal government and controls large parts of the country. According to US Army General Stephen Townsend, the al-Shabab poses the ”greatest threat to U.S. persons and interests” in East Africa, and the Somalian special forces have received special training from the US to combat the group.

Area of operations of al-Shabab in Somalia in November 2023. Source: Critical Threats

The Somalian federal government has said that a rescue mission is underway. A colonnel in the town of Abado however said to Reuters that the troops in the area have no plans of carrying out a rescue mission, because the helicopter and its passengers are in an area which has been controlled by al-Shabab for 10 years and where the armed group has the strong support of the masses. In the summer of 2022, the SFG used clan contradictions to stage an offensive which removed al-Shabab from some rural areas, but the group has started a counter-offensive, intensifying its attacks on military bases. Now, the counteroffensive of the al-Shabab has stalled the offensive of the SFG, and there still exists a pocket of control within the areas where al-Shabab was forced to retreat and this gives the armed group the possibility to regain control of the areas. At the same time, the ”peace-keeping mission” of the African Union is slowly retreating from Somalia, handing over the responsibility to the Somali armed forces who are described as ”not ready for the task”.

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