Ethiopia alleged to have downed coronavirus supply jet
May 10, 2020
Media reports say a private Kenyan plane recently downed in Somalia was shot by troops deployed from Ethiopia. So far, the African Union's Somalia mission AMISOM has only called for a joint investigation.
Kenya media, including the Daily Nation newspaper, claim that troops from Ethiopia operating inside Somalia — but not assigned to the African Union (AU) mission AMISON — mistakenly shot down the Kenyan cargo plane last Monday.
The aircraft, an Embraer EMB 120 carrying humanitarian and medical supplies to handle potential coronavirus cases, crashed on approach to Bardale in central Somalia, reportedly killing its six occupants.
AMISON on Tuesday said it welcomed the decision by leaders of "Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia to investigate the incident” that reportedly involved a rocket firing.
Daily Nation, and other outlets, on Saturday cited what it called a "preliminary report” filed by AMISOM disclosing that "non-AMISOM" Ethiopian troops guarding the Bardale airstrip were surprised by the plane's "unusual" flight approach.
The troops had suspected the aircraft was a "suicide attacker," said the Daily Nation, adding the plane's crew had approached Bardale unusually from the west.
It was flying closer to the ground and its arrival had not been communicated beforehand, the newspaper claimed, citing AMISOM in Mogadishu.
On Tuesday, the AU mission said the aircraft — operated by Kenyan-registered African Express Airways — had made its flight from Mogadishu via Baidoa.
'Clarifying the circumstances'
AMISOM's head of mission Francisco Madeira said the joint inquiry would be aimed at "clarifying the circumstances surrounding this incident."
AMISOM's formation in 2007 under UN resolution, but run by the AU, was preceded by a large Ethiopian incursion aimed at disbanding the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist network.
AMISOM currently comprises some 20,000 personnel from eight AU countries allocated control over various regions shaken for years by terrorist attacks.
Bardale has long been a base used by the Ethiopian military.
Italian aid worker rescued
In a separate development Saturday, Italy announced that Italian aid worker Silvia Romano, who had been kidnapped by gunmen in northern Kenya 18 months ago, has been rescued inside Somalia, 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the Somali capital.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Romano had arrived at the Italian embassy in Mogadishu and would arrive in Rome on Sunday on a special flight.
"Thanks to the men and women of the foreign intelligence services," tweeted Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.