Somali and Kenyan officials are set to hold a joint investigation into the downing of a humanitarian flight in Somalia’s south-west on Monday.
Officials from respective governments spoke Tuesday, in a bid to curb escalating tensions between the two east African nations.
“The government of the Republic of Kenya urges the federal government of Somalia and international agencies to thoroughly and swiftly investigate the matter because it impacts humanitarian operations at a time of highest need,” said a statement from Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Somali authorities responded by inviting Kenyan counterparts to collaborate on the investigation.
“President Farmaajo invited the Kenyan civil aviation authorities to team with their Somalia counterparts with a view to completing the investigations expeditiously,” announced the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The plane, an Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia operated by African Express Airways, was on a chartered mission to transport medical supplies from the Somali capital around the country.
After leaving Mogadishu, the aircraft made a brief stopover in Baidoa before continuing onwards. The Embraer crashed moments before reaching the scheduled destination of Bardale (near the Ethiopian border) at 3:30pm local time, killing all six people on board.
While the Somali Foreign Ministry has maintained that the cause of the crash is “unclear”, local media reports have suggested that the plane was gunned down.
Germany’s national broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, reported this week that a Somali regional official named Ahmed Isaq claimed to have seen a surface-to-air projectile hit the plane moments before the crash.
While cells of the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab are active in pockets of southern Somalia, Bardale is controlled by national troops as well as African Union contingents.
The head of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) also pledged support to the investigation.
“We would like to pledge our continued solidarity with the governments of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia and will support and facilitate investigations aimed at clarifying the circumstances surrounding this incident”, said ambassador Francisco Madeira on Wednesday.