Plane Carrying Black Lawmaker Fired On in Somalia

Published April 14, 2009

Days after U.S. snipers shot and killed three Somali pirates during their rescue of a U.S. captain, the plane carrying U.S. Rep Donald Payne (D-NJ) was fired on as it was leaving an airport in Somalia, reports CNN. But Payne was unharmed in the incident.

“We understand that his plane was fired on … as he left … but that they have left safely and that no one was hurt,” a spokeswoman from his office said.

The plane did suffer unknown damage from the attack. Payne did not even know the attack took place until he was in Kenya.

“We were informed when we arrived in Nairobi that there was a report of some mortar shelling at the airport about the time of our takeoff,” he told CNN.

Payne was in the east African nation because of his role as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health.

“He felt it was important to travel [to Somalia] to see first-hand what was happening,” his spokeswoman said.

The trip was planned before U.S. snipers recently killed three Somali pirates, although Payne had also been concerned about the sea hijackings. The State Department had warned Payne against traveling to the nation.

“We were informed by the State Department that they had not authorized any of their personnel to visit Mogadishu, and we were aware of the threat. It was the African Union that was there in full force, and there was certainly adequate security,” Payne said.

Written by BET.com Staff

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