Four killed in Ethiopian military plane crash in Mogadishu

An Ethiopian military cargo plane crash landed and burst into flames Friday at Mogadishu airport, killing four crew members, officials with Somali security and AU forces said.

"It was a military cargo plane and there were six crew on board," said one security official who asked not to be named.

"Four of them died and two were rescued," the official said.

He said the aircraft, which crashed shortly before 0500 GMT belonged to the Ethiopian military.

A thick tower of smoke was seen billowing up from the crash scene and the airport was closed.

Sources at the airport said a series of explosions was heard as the fire spread along the plane, suggesting it was carrying ammunition or other inflammable products.

The African Union force in Somalia (Amisom) confirmed on its Twitter feed that the wrecked aircraft belonged to the Ethiopian airforce, expressing "heartfelt condolences to the government and people of Ethiopia following the loss of crew members".

Nick Kay, the UN special representative to Somalia, tweeted that he offered his "condolences" for the "tragic crash".

According to the Somalian government spokesman, Ridwan Haji Abdiweli, the plane suffered difficulties on landing.

However, he added that there "was nothing to indicate any external interference", referring to the possibility of an attack.

Ethiopia sent troops into south-west Somalia in 2011 to fight Shebab Islamist insurgents, alongside the Amisom force.

The Ethiopian troops have been crucial in dislodging the Shebab from a series of key towns.

The Ethiopian government confirmed the accident on Friday afternoon but said the exact cause of the accident was subject to an investigation.

A spokesman for the minister of foreign affairs, Dina Mufti, said they were unable to confirm the number of dead or injured.