The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that an unmanned U.S. drone crashed near the Somali coast but it said it had not been shot down by Al Shabab, a radical Islamist group linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
A Defense Department spokesman told the daily Politico on Tuesday that "During the course of a routine surveillance mission along the coast of Somalia on (Monday) May 27, a military remotely piloted aircraft crashed in a remote area near the shoreline of Mogadishu," the Somali capital.
Al Shabab wrote on its Twitter account, including alleged photos of the crashed drone, that "This one will no longer be able to spy on Muslims again. So much for the empty rhetoric on the drone program!"
The reason the drone - the model of which the Pentagon refused to reveal - went down is under investigation. Al Shabab claims they shot it down but U.S. officials said that is rather unlikely because the surveillance drones fly so high.
U.S. military drones are believed to be stationed at the U.S. base in Djibouti and operate from an airport in the Seychelles, and smaller drones are launched from U.S. warships at sea.
Al Shabab is trying to remain in Somali territory after its members were expelled from Mogadishu, and it has initiated combat in several isolated regions of the East African country.
U.S. President Barack Obama said last week that the use of unmanned drones in the fight against Al Qaeda is necessary, and he proposed certain restrictions on lethal attacks using them but not on nonlethal reconnaissance flights.
The U.S. African Command has intensified its use of drones to monitor the presence of Muslim extremists in countries like Somalia, in the Horn of Africa region, as well as Yemen, which is on the Arabian Peninsula.
The U.S. Defense Department recently signed an agreement with Niger to be able to operate drones in that country. EFE