Somalia

Unknown gunmen fire at UN plane in Somalia

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A United Nations aircraft carrying three UN staff members was fired upon at the Kismayo airport in Somalia this morning, leading to the suspension of all UN air and ground operations in the area until further notice, a UN spokesman said today in New York.
The nine-seater Caravan aircraft was rolling along for take-off when unidentified gunmen fired on it from both sides of the runway. Nobody was injured in the shooting and the plane took off, eventually landing in the south-central town of Baidoa. Aboard the plane were three UNICEF workers -- one from France and two from the United Kingdom, spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

According to Kevin Farrell, acting UN Coordinator for Somalia, the outcome of the attack could have been much worse.

"We are fortunate that no one was killed, and that no one was in the seat where the bullet lodged. The gunmen could have seriously damaged the aircraft and caused a terrible crash," he said.

Kismayo, some 425 kilometres southwest of the capital Mogadishu, has been the scene of on-again off-again clan-based fighting for control since former president Siad Barre was deposed in January 1991.