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Jul 01

US extends drone strikes to Somalia

By Declan WalshPredator drone in Afghanistan

A US Predator drone in Afghanistan. The strike in Somalia means armed drones are operating in six countries. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

First drone strike in Somalia reported to have wounded senior al-Shabab militants

The US has conducted its first drone strike on Islamist militants in Somalia, marking the expansion of the pilotless war campaign to a sixth country.

The missile strike on a vehicle in the southern town of Kismayo, reported last week as a helicopter assault, wounded two senior militants with al-Shabab and several foreign fighters according to the Washington Post.

Armed Predator and Reaper drones already operate in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, where they are controlled by the US military or the CIA.

The CIA-run programmes are controversial. Although they provide the Obama administration with a low-risk weapon against Islamist militants, they stir intense anti-American hostility among the local population.

Opposition is most vociferous in Pakistan, where the government said on Wednesday it was shutting down a big CIA drone base, and had ordered US personnel based there to leave.

[more…]

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