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Release the Hounds! UAVs Strike in Somalia

by John Reed on June 30, 2011

In case you didn’t see it, the U.S. has unleashed the drones on yet another country, Somalia. Two leaders of the al Shabab terrorist group were wounded in a drone strike there last week, according to the Washington Post. They plane, or planes, involved apparently belonged to U.S. Special Operations Command.

As the Post notes, this is the sixth country where U.S. drones are dropping ordnance. The other countries, that we know about, are; Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen. The aircraft hitting targets in Somalia may be operating out of the ever-growing U.S.-French base in nearby Djibouti known as Camp Lemonnier but we’ll likely never know for sure.

Still, we’ve been rustling around in Somalia on and off for decades now. Things heated up a couple of years ago when Air Force Special Operations Command AC-130 gunships pounded terrorists from above with their cannons and the U.S. and a ton of other countries have been conducting all sorts of anti-piracy ops in the waters off Somalia and in some cases venturing ashore to nab pirate or terrorist targets. And keep in mind that drones have definitley been used in those offshore ops.

Apparently, the Pentagon brought the drones into Somalia itself because of “growing concern within the U.S. government that some leaders of the Islamist group [al-Shabab] are collaborating more closely with al-Qaeda to strike targets beyond Somalia, the military official said.”

As we all know, UAVs can loiter for a long time looking for and tracking targets, are almost invincible to Somalia’s non-existant air defenses (although, Stinger-style MANPADS are all over Africa), and if they do go down it’s no huge loss.

More details of the attack per the Post:

In last week’s attack, local officials told the Associated Press that military aircraft struck a convoy carrying the militants as they drove along the coastline of the southern port city of Kismaayo late Thursday. Other local residents told journalists that an air attack had taken place on a militant camp near Kismaayo, an insurgent stronghold. Several residents were quoted as saying that more than one explosion had occurred over a period of several hours and that they thought that at least helicopters had taken part in the attack.

An al-Shabab leader confirmed the airstrike and said two militants were wounded. Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig, Somalia’s deputy defense minister, said the attack was a coordinated operation that killed “many” foreign fighters.

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