Kenya: Military chopper gunned down

A Kenyan military helicopter crashed on Tuesday and injured three senior army officers as it patrolled the volatile Kenya-Somali border. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the plane was shot down by enemy fire from the Somali side. However, the Kenyan Department of Defense has denied it.

A loud bang suspected to be from a riffle was heard before the plane came down, according to an eye witness report. Two pilots and a senior military officer, identified only as Colonel Muteti, who is in charge of the Northern region, were injured when the Hughes-MD500 chopper, popularly known within the military circles as ‘YY’ came down. The incident took place at the Hulugho division in Ijara district at about 3pm. The American made plane is the only one used in the entire African continent.

Those who were injured were airlifted to the Forces Memorial Hospital in Nairobi and are reported to be in a stable condition.

Confirming the accident, a senior police officer from Ijara District situated in the Northern Kenya, Remas Warui, said the helicopter was patrolling the Kenya-Somali border with another identical plane. Both planes were based at the Kiyungi Millitary base in the tourist resort district of Lamu within the Coast Province. He said they were heading towards the Hulugho Base.

The military plane crash comes after a 60-year-old controversial Somali cleric Abdikadir Abdi was kidnapped from a refugee camp in Ijara district, where he had sought refuge to escape attacks from the Somali militia group, Al Shabaab. The Islamic preacher is reported to have delivered sermons critical of the militia. The group controls most of the Southern regions of Somalia.

The militia, which has links with the Al Qaeda terror organization, has made incursions into the Kenyan territory on several occasions, leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake. The organization has also been reported to lay claim to the Kenyan North-Eastern Province, which is inhabited by Kenyan ethnic Somalis.

Meanwhile, the Kenya-Somali border is officially closed.

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