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Somali President to VOA: Crashed Plane in Hands of Bandits

  • VOA News

Somalia's president says authorities are investigating a plane crash and the fate of survivors apparently taken captive by militant group al-Shabab.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told VOA's Somali Service in an interview Friday that the plane fell into the hands of "bandits or militiamen" who kidnapped the passengers.

The small plane was carrying between nine and 11 people, who have yet to be identified. Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the aircraft was chartered by contractors working with security operations in war-torn Somalia.

Witnesses told VOA the plane crash-landed in heavy rain Wednesday about 25 kilometers west of the capital, Mogadishu, near the al-Shabab-controlled village of Omar Darire.

Passengers moved

Shabab gunmen are said to have taken control of the crash site and moved the passengers to an undisclosed location.

There has been no word on the condition of the passengers, and no statement from al-Shabab.

The plane had reportedly taken off from Nairobi and was heading to Ballidogle, an air base 90 kilometers west of Mogadishu. It is not known what caused the plane to crash.

One farmer said Shabab camouflaged the wreckage with leaves to prevent it from being spotted from the air.

The al-Qaida-linked militant group still controls some rural parts of Somalia after being driven out of major population areas by the government and African Union troops.

Harun Maruf and Ridwan Haji Abdiwali of VOA's Somali Service contributed to this report.

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