The United States is building an array of secret new drone bases to conduct strikes against Al-Qaeda targets in Somalia and Yemen, according to the Washington Post.
One of the new installations is being set up in Ethiopia, a close US ally in the fight against the Islamist Shebab that controls much of Somalia, while another is being established in the Seychelles, the Post reported late Tuesday.
|A handout picture taken and released on September 15, 2011 by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team shows Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (2nd R) launching the construction of the the new training camp for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops|
A small fleet of so-called "hunter-killer" drones -- able to fire Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs -- already based on the Indian Ocean archipelago resumed operations this month after a pilot mission demonstrated that they could effectively patrol Somalia from there, it said.
The Post said the United States is also conducting drone missions over both Somalia and Yemen from the small African country Djibouti, seeking to weaken Al-Qaeda affiliates in both countries.
"It’s a conscious recognition that those are the hot spots developing right now," it quoted a former senior US military official as saying.
The United States regularly launches drone strikes against suspected militants along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where it claims to have greatly degraded Al-Qaeda's core leadership.
However, US officials have expressed growing alarm about the growth of Al-Qaeda in increasingly lawless regions in both Somalia and Yemen, fearing that such militants could launch attacks on the United States.
In late June the Post reported that two senior commanders of Somalia's Shebab 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.
A Shebab official in the area of the reported attack described an aerial bombing raid on a Shebab base that wounded several fighters, including foreigners, and said he believed it was carried out by US aircraft.