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Somalia now invites KCAA to probe downing of aircraft

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo
Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo has invited officials from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) to take part in unravelling the mysterious crash of African Express aircraft on Monday.

Mr Farmaajo Tuesday ordered immediate investigations into the crash that killed six people on board adding that Somalia detectives would collaborate with the KCAA officials.

The gesture came just hours after Kenya asked its Horn of Africa neighbour to investigate the “unclear circumstances” under which the Embraer 5Y-AXO plane was shot down in Bardale.

The plane owned by Captain Musa Bulhan, a career pilot and one of the pioneer aviation entrepreneurs in Kenya had been supporting humanitarian operations during this Covid-19 pandemic period.

“The Government of the Republic of Kenya urges the Federal Government of Somalia and International Agencies to thoroughly and swiftly investigate the matter because it impacts humanitarian operations at a time of highest need,” said a statement from Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday.

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Kenya further urged Kenyan-based carriers offering cargo operations in Somalia to exercise “extra caution in light of the unclear circumstances surrounding the incident.”

According to KCAA, the plane suspected to have been brought down by Ethiopian troops had been operating in Somalia since March 2.

The aircraft, KCAA said, departed Mogadishu with medical suppliers headed for Baidoa where it landed at 1310 hrs.

It then departed Baidoa for Bardale landing at 1600 hrs and later departed for Berdere.

KCAA said that the firm’s operations officer confirmed losing contact with the aircraft at approximately 1620 hrs.

Of the six people who were in the Embraer 5Y-AXO plane, two were Kenyan pilots and four Somali nationals.

Local security officials told Reuters that a rocket-propelled grenade brought down the light Kenyan-registered aircraft while it was landing in the town in the Bay region.

Al Qaeda-linked insurgency group Al-Shabaab has a presence in the area, although the town of Bardale and its airfield is secured by Somali forces and Ethiopian troops, Reuters reported.

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