Plane carrying medical supplies "shot down" in Somalia

The African Express Airways Embraer-120 involved in the crash. Photo by aeroprints on Flickr

An African Express Airways plane carrying medical supplies to be used in the fight against COVID-19 was "shot down" in Somalia on Monday at 3:30 pm local time, killing all six people on board. These included the pilot, copilot, flight engineer, a trainee pilot as well as two passengers working for the airline. At the time of writing, only five of the six bodies had been recovered.

The flight was operated using an African Express Airways Embraer 120, bearing the Kenyan registration 5Y-AXO. The aircraft crashed near Bardale Airport, within the tension-prone southwest region of Somalia. The flight flew from Mogadishu to Baidoa before continuing its flight to Bardale, where it crashed.

Former Somalia Minister of Defence, Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed, said that a witness told him the plane had made an initial attempt to land, had to swing around again due to wildlife on the airfield and then appeared to be shot on the wing on its second approach. Other witnesses near the crash site also reported that the aircraft was shot down by a projectile.

Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked insurgency Al Shabaab has a presence in the area where the plane came down, although the town of Bardale and its airfield is secured by Somali forces and Ethiopian troops. Ethiopia has troops in Baidoa and Bardale as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission.

A thorough investigation is ongoing and investigators will arrive on Tuesday and any international assistance has been welcomed.

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