Representational imageReuters

A Kenyan military plane crashed in southern Somalia on Thursday. While the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed to have shot it down, the military maintains that the crash occurred after technical glitches.

The plane crashed in an area where Kenyan troops along with African Union peacekeeping forces are fighting the Al-Shabaab militants. The pilot and two crew members were killed in the crash, some reports said.

The Kenya Defence Force has cited a technical problem behind the crash.

"While returning from a combat mission in Jamaame, southern Somalia, developed technical problems and crashed in the general area of Kismayo" a spokesperson said.

However, the Al-Shabaab militants claimed they shot down the plane.

"We hit the Kenyan jet and downed it. It was bombing Bulaguduud town today," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, a spokesman for the group, told Reuters.

Kenya Defence Force officials rubbished the rebel group's claims, doubting their 'capability'.

"They don't have the capability or the means to do that," he said. "This was a purely mechanical failure, a technical problem," KDF spokesman Colonel David Obonyo said.

Al-Shabaab has launched a series of deadly attack across the Somali border in Kenya, and killed scores in two recent massacres in Mandera.