On May 4th, a Kenyan Embraer E-120 civilian turboprop aircraft crashed in Somalia.
According to reports all that were on board died, and there’s conflicting reports with some claiming that the victims were 5, and others 6. The aircraft was loaded with coronavirus supplies to help deal with the pandemic.
The aircraft has a Kenyan registration 5Y-AXO, serial number 259, and is operated by Kenyan airline company African Express Airways.
The plane took off from Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, stopped over in Baidoa in the country’s southwestern Bay region and then continued its flight south to Bardale town where it crashed.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that the incident occurred under “unclear circumstances” and warned Kenyan and other humanitarian aircraft operating in the region to “enhance extra precaution in light of the unclear circumstances surrounding the incident.”
According to the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority, the Kenyan-registered twin-engine private cargo plane with African Express Airways crashed “under circumstances we are yet to confirm.”
A week later, on May 11th, a report by the African Union Military Command in Somalia (AMISOM) admitted that the aircraft was mistakenly shot down by fire with a 23-mm anti-aircraft artillery ZU-23 of the Ethiopian contingent of AMISOM forces.
Even before the report, Ahmed Isaq, a local Somali official with the Southwestern State regional administration, told various news agencies that the aircraft was shot down.
A projectile fired from the ground hit the plane as it approached the airstrip in Bay region, he said.
“The aircraft was about to land at the Bardale airstrip when it crashed and burst into flames. All six people onboard died in the incident,” Isack said.
The airstrip is a base for the Ethiopian military under the African Union (AU) mission tasked with combating the al-Shabab extremist group, an Islamist militant group allied to al-Qaeda. Soldiers from Ethiopia and Kenya are among those deployed to Somalia as part of an AU peacekeeping mission fighting the militants.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi ordered Somalia’s civil aviation authorities work with Kenya on their investigation.
“President Farmajo invited the Kenyan civil aviation authorities to team with their Somalia counterparts with a view to completing the investigations expeditiously,” the foreign affairs ministry said.
Major General Mohammed Tessema, spokesman for the Ethiopian National Defence Force, said he had no information about the crash and referred questions to “armed force commanders in Somalia.”
Relations between Kenya and Somalia are strained, as in April, Kenya accused Somali troops of an “unwarranted attack” over its border near the northern town of Mandera, describing the incident as a provocation.
Kenyan authorities also said that a violent clash along the border between Somali government troops and forces loyal to Ahmed Madobe, the leader of Jubbaland, spilled on Kenyan territory.
Nairobi has also hinted that it could potentially annex parts of Somalian territory, in order to keep al-Shabab militants away from its territory.
Somalia, on its part, continuously accuses Kenya of meddling in its internal affairs, all the while Nairobi denies doing any such thing.
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