Kenyan search teams on Thursday found the final missing bodies of seven Ugandan servicemen killed in a military helicopter crash at the weekend, the army said as it ended its rescue mission.
“All the seven bodies were found within the burnt wreckage of the helicopter, and they were recovered and flown to Nairobi… We can now safely say that the rescue mission has come to an end,” said Kenyan army spokesman Bogita Ongeri.
Three Russian-made Mi-24 combat helicopters went down in a remote mountain region near snowcapped Mount Kenya on Sunday, while en route to support African Union troops in war-torn Somalia.
One helicopter was found on Monday, with all seven servicemen on board rescued. The wreckage of the two other aircraft were found Tuesday, with one aircraft badly burned.
Eight survivors from the second helicopter trekked eight kilometres (five miles) through dense forests in search of help, and were airlifted to Nairobi on Tuesday.
The aircraft came down in thickly forested mountainous terrain dominated by Mount Kenya, Africa’s second-highest peak at 5,199 metres (17,057 feet).
Wild animals including elephants, leopards and rhinos prowl the forests, about 110 kilometres (70 miles) north of the capital Nairobi.
Uganda, which has blamed poor weather for the crashes, provides around a third of the nearly 17,000-strong AU force in Somalia.
Kampala had said last week that it would send its first combat and transport helicopters to the Horn of Africa nation.
The aircraft were seen as key to extending gains made against the hardline Shebab insurgents, who have fled a string of stronghold towns in recent months, stretching AU military resources over a far wider zone.