A US drone crashed at Halane, Somalia on February 29, 2012. Scores have been killed in the Horn of Africa nation by the Pentagon and the CIA., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Drone crashes in southern Somalia, may have been shot down
5:37 PM 05/28/2013
A suspected U.S. reconnaissance drone crashed on Tuesday in southern Somalia, where African forces are fighting Islamist al Shabaab insurgents, the rebels and the provincial governor said.
Lower Shabelle region governor Abdikadir Mohamed Nur said that al Shabaab militants had shot at the aircraft over the town of Bulamareer for several hours before it crashed.
“Finally they hit it and the drone crashed,” Nur told Reuters.
The insurgents confirmed that a drone had crashed but did not say if they had downed it.
“A U.S. drone has just crashed near one of the towns under the administration of the Mujahideen in the Lower Shabelle region,” al Shabaab said on a social media account.
Although the United States does not report its activities in Somalia, drones have been used in recent years to kill Somali and foreign al Shabaab fighters.
Western nations are worried that Somalia will sink back into chaos and provide a launchpad for Islamist militancy despite a fragile recovery after two decades of war.
Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon was seeking to send drones to Kenya as part of a $40 million-plus military aid package to help four African countries fighting al Qaeda and al Shabaab militants
Bulamareer residents said al Shabaab fighters had kept them away from the crash site.
“Al Shabaab fighters surrounded the scene. We are not allowed to go near it,” resident Aden Farah told Reuters.
Al Shabaab, which is affiliated with al Qaeda, said in January 2011 that a missile launched from a drone had killed Bilal el Berjawi, a Lebanese al Shabaab fighter who held a British passport.
Another missile killed four foreign militants south of the Somali capital Mogadishu in February 2012.
Al Shabaab were driven out of Mogadishu in late 2011 and are struggling to hold on to territory elsewhere in the face of attacks by Kenyan, Ethiopian and African Union forces trying to prevent Islamist militancy spreading out from Somalia.
Pentagon confirms drone crash in Somalia
By: Stephanie Gaskell
May 28, 2013 04:53 PM EDT
The Pentagon has confirmed that a U.S. reconnaissance drone crashed off the coast of Somalia on Monday, but defense officials deny it was shot down by fighters loyal to the al-Shabab insurgency.
The Al Qaeda-affiliated militant group posted several pictures to its Twitter account that it claimed are parts of a drone it shot down with the message: “This one will no longer be able to spy on Muslims again. So much for the empty rhetoric on the drone program!”
U.S. military officials said it’s “highly unlikely” that the drone was shot down, especially since the aircraft fly at such high altitudes.
“During the course of a routine surveillance mission along the coast of Somalia on May 27, a military remotely piloted aircraft crashed in a remote area near the shoreline of Mogadishu,” a defense spokesman told POLITICO on Tuesday.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. The Pentagon declined to identify what kind of drone had crashed. American surveillance drones are believed to operate from the U.S. base in Djibouti, from an airport in the Seychelles and smaller drones fly from U.S. warships at sea.
Lower Shabelle region governor Abdikadir Mohamed Nur told Reuters that al-Shabab militants had shot at the aircraft over the town of Bulamareer for several hours before it crashed.
“Finally, they hit it and the drone crashed,” Nur said, per the wire report.
Local residents said the fighters kept them away from the crash site.
“Al-Shabab fighters surrounded the scene. We are not allowed to go near it,” resident Aden Farah told Reuters.
Al-Shabab has been trying to hold on to territory in Somalia after being driven out of the capital of Mogadishu, and have taken to fighting in more remote regions of the country.
Although President Barack Obama said last week that he wants the U.S. to use higher standards before targeting terrorists with lethal drone strikes, he placed no restrictions on their use in nonlethal reconnaissance flights. Africa Command has been beefing up its unarmed drone presence in Africa to help stop nations like Somalia and Yemen from becoming havens for terrorists to launch attacks. The Defense Department recently signed an agreement with Niger to operate a drone base there.