White House: US Drones in Ethiopia

Posted October 28th, 2011 at 2:15 pm (UTC-5)
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The White House says the United States has drones in Ethiopia and that the unmanned aircraft are there to conduct reconnaissance missions, not airstrikes.

Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Friday that the operation is part of the U.S. government's partnership with Ethiopia to promote stability in the Horn of Africa and combat terrorism.

U.S. military officials have confirmed the drones are flying into Somalia, where the government is battling the al-Qaida-Linked militant group al-Shabab.

The drones can be armed with missiles and satellite-guided bombs, but a military spokesman told VOA on Friday the missions are strictly for surveillance purposes.

Authorities say the remote-controlled aircraft are flying from an airfield in the southern Ethiopian city of Arba Minch.

The spokesman also said the drone operation is unrelated to Kenya's ongoing military offensive inside Somalia.

Kenyan troops moved into Somalia two weeks ago in pursuit of al-Shabab militants, who are suspected of kidnapping several foreigners on Kenyan territory.

On Friday, Kenyan and Somali forces captured the town of Burgabo in the Lower Juba region.

Kenyan troops have now moved within 200 kilometers of the port city of Kismayo, the third largest city in Somalia and an economic hub for al-Shabab.