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Plane carrying coronavirus aid crashes in Somalia

Plane carrying coronavirus aid supplies crash in Somalia
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Authorities in Somalia say a plane carrying coronavirus aid supplies has crashed, killing the six people on board.

Somalia transport minister Mohamed Salad has declined to speculate on the cause of the crash. However, according to a witness at the airfield, the plane appeared to have been shot down.

The pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and a trainee pilot, as well as two people working for the airline were killed. Five bodies has been recovered so far. Salad said a unit will arrive on Tuesday (today) to investigate the crash. He also said international assistance is welcome.

State-run Somali National News Agency said the plane belonged to African Express Airways and was ferrying supplies for use in the fight against coronavirus. “An African [Express] Airways plane from Mogadishu flew to Baidoa and then continued its flight to Bardale town where it crashed,” the agency said on its website. “It is not clear why it crashed.”

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Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed, Somalia’s former minister of defence, said a witness told him the plane made an initial attempt to land, swung around again because of wildlife on the airfield, and then appeared to be shot on one wing on its second approach.

He provided photographs showing the plane in flames, pieces of it scattered over a small area, and its tail intact. He also provided a passenger list with six names.

Ethiopia has troops in Baidoa and Bardale as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission. The spokesman for the Ethiopian army said he was unaware of the crash.

Al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda-linked armed group fighting the Somali government, has a presence in the area and was not immediately available for comment.