US to Provide Drones For Terror Fight in Somalia

Posted June 28th, 2011 at 7:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Defense Department is supplying drone aircraft to Uganda and Burundi to help those countries fight Islamist militants in Somalia.

U.S. military officials say the Pentagon is sending four drones to the African nations, part of a $45-million military aid package.

The aid includes body armor, night vision gear, communications equipment and surveillance systems.

Officials say the plan is aimed at helping to build the counterterrorism capabilities of Uganda and Burundi. The two countries have sent about 9,000 peacekeeping forces to Somalia as part of an African Union force.

The AU force, along with troops from Somalia's United Nations-backed government, are fighting the Islamist insurgent group, al-Shabab.

The al-Qaida-linked group wants to turn Somalia into a strict Islamic state.

Al-Shabab rules much of southern and central Somalia, while the government controls only small parts of the capital.

Government and AU forces, however, have retaken parts of Mogadishu in an offensive that began in February.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.