Somalia pledges swift investigations to downing of Kenyan plane in Bardale

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The Federal Government of Somalia confirmed the downing of a Kenyan cargo plane in the southern part of the country, pledging “swift” investigations and “immediate publication” of a report in the coming days. The Embraer 120-5Y AXO crashed three minutes away from landing at Bardale airport in the Southwest state of Somalia according to authorities.

The plane, which was carrying medical supplies and mosquito nets, had left Baidoa, the regional administrative capital of the state. While the cause of the accident could not be immediately established, multiple sources confirmed that the aircraft, owned by the African Express, was downed by a Rocket Propelled Grenade [RPG] which was fired by unknown people 5 kilometers from the airport.

In a press release, the ministry of transport said “we have established the crashing of an aircraft in Bardale in which all the occupants died instantly. This is a big loss to the people of Somalia”. Further, it added: “We commit ourselves as the government to conduct swift and transparent investigations to the incident. Thereafter, we shall have the findings published, we sincerely condole with the affected families.” At the time of the crash, there were six people according to the authorities. They were identified as Hassan Bulhan, the son of the aircraft’ owner Muse Bulhan, captains Mubruuk and Omar, an engineer, and two other officials.

The airport is manned by Ethiopian National Defense Forces and there have been claimed that they might have brought down the plane. Al-Shabaab cannot be ruled out since it also controls sections of the town. But a source told 254breakingnews that “FGS and ENDF are frustrating both the owners of the aircraft from accessing the black box. We have initiated talks to have it for investigations”. Southwest regional transportation minister Hassan Hussein said “it’s terrible, we’ve lost all the six passengers. We’ve established that nobody survived”.

The cause of the incident is still being investigated, added the official. Mohamed Abdullahi Oomaar, Somalia’s minister of aviation Somalia pledges swift investigations to downing of Kenyan plane in Bardale. Abdirahman Aden Ibbi, a Somali MP who is also a co-owner, said the plane was flying from Baidoa to Bardale, and that “it was shot from 5 kilometers away from the airport”. It was chartered by an NGO operating within Somalia. The accident comes amid escalating tensions between Kenya and Somalia, which have also seen Ethiopians sucked into the crisis. Both Mogadishu and Addis Ababa accuse Kenya of being a stumbling block in promoting unity within Somalia by supporting the Jubaland administration under Ahmed Madobe.

Although several sources have linked ENDF to the crash, Maj. General Mohamed Tessema, the spokesperson of the force, told Addis Ababa Standard journalist Zacharias Zelalem that “I know nothing about the downing of the aircraft by our forces, speak to Division Command Officer”. The ENDF controls Sectors III and VI of AMISOM in Somalia which largely falls within the jurisdictions of Jubaland and Southwest. The AU forces work under the command of Lt. General Tigabu Yilma, who is an Ethiopian. Observers believe the crash could spark endless tussles between Kenya and Ethiopia, perhaps affecting the ongoing fight against Al-Shabaab militants, who have literally caused havoc within Somalia for over a decade.

“Kenya and Ethiopia have been spoiling for a fight. Downing of a Kenyan commercial cargo plane in an area controlled by Ethiopian forces marks a dangerous new low. Cynical and cowardly to play proxy games over enfeebled Somalia,” argues Rashid Andi, an analyst for the Horn

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