Kenyan pilot missing in action after jet crashes

Somali militant group Al-Shabaab said it had shot the plane down.

FILE: A military plane transporting the bodies of victims massacred on 2 December, 2014 at Kenya’s remote north-eastern town of Mandera, bordering Somalia, arrives at the Wilson airport in Nairobi. Picture: AFP.

NAIROBI - A Kenyan pilot was missing in action on Friday, a day after ejecting from his combat jet before it crashed in southern Somalia, a spokesman for the military said.

The Kenya Defence Force, which has troops in Somalia with an African Union force fighting Islamist rebels, said the plane had crashed on Thursday due to a technical problem. The Somali militant group Al-Shabaab said it had shot the plane down.

"We have yet to find him. He is still missing in action," said spokesman Colonel David Obonyo. He said the fuselage of the plane had been burned by al Shabaab after it fell inside territory they control.

The aircraft had been on a combat mission when it came down near the port city of Kismayu, where Kenyan forces are stationed.

One analyst questioned whether al-Shabaab had the capability to down combat jets, something it had never managed to do since Kenya began flying missions over Somalia. But he said he could not be certain that al Shabaab had not acquired anti-aircraft weaponry recently.