(Alshaid)The United States is reported to be expanding a secret drone program in east Africa and the Arabian peninsula in order to gather intelligence and strike al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia and Yemen, media reports said.
“One of the installations is being established in Ethiopia, a US ally in the fight against al-Shabab, the Somali militant group that controls much of that country,” The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
“Another base is in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, where a small fleet of hunter-killer drones resumed operations this month after an experimental mission demonstrated that the unmanned aircraft could effectively patrol Somalia from there,” The Post said.
In addition, the report said the Central Intelligence Agency is building a secret airstrip somehwere in the Arabian subcontinent in order to carry out drone missions against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. U.S. officials say the group, based in Yemen, is al-Qaida’s most active branch, and is responsible for several attempted attacks on U.S. targets.
The U.S. is reported to have already flown drones over Somalia and Yemen from installations in Djibouti.
Recently, top Pentagon officials have been saying that the al-Qaida leaders might shift their base in the African and Middle Eastern countries as they no longer consider the tribal areas of Pakistan as a safe and secure.
In late June the Post reported that two senior commanders of Somalia’s Alshabab insurgency believed to have ties to al-Qaeda in Yemen were wounded in what appeared to have been the first US drone strike on the country.
Alshabab official in the area of the reported attack described an aerial bombing raid on Alshabab base that wounded several fighters, including foreigners, and said he believed it was carried out by US aircraft.