Ethiopian soldiers suspected in shutting down an aid plane headed for Somalia

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A plane carrying key humanitarian supplies that on Monday crashed in Somalia may have been shot down by Ethiopian troops, according to a new report from the office of the African Union Force Commander (AUFC) in Somalia.

The incident adds to long-running high tensions in the region, where a history of unresolved territorial disputes between Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia — as well as the stubborn presence of the al-Shabab terrorist group — threatens the security and stability of the area.

The report said that Ethiopian troops not affiliated with the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Somalia targeted the Kenyan flagged private jet out of fear that it was about to carry out a “suicide” terrorist attack.

The cargo aircraft plunged to the earth on 4 iMay n the town of Bardale, in southwestern Somalia, killing six people aboard.

The aircraft, owned by African Express Airways, was carrying supplies to assist in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

An investigation of the crash is still underway.

The Somali authorities within the AU verified the authenticity of the report, but have not yet confirmed its findings.

The area surrounding the city is secured by Somali and Ethiopian troops. They are part of an AU peacekeeping mission meant to help Somalia fight the al-Shabab, a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda.

“The incident shines an uncomfortable light on the seeming lack of coordination among Ethiopian and Kenyan actors active in Somalia,” Murithi Mutiga, the project director for the Horn of Africa at the International Crisis Group told the press. He added, “the best way forward is for all parties to keep channels of communication open and to ensure something like this does not happen again.”