An unmanned US spy drone has crashed in Somalia’s southern port of Kismayu, a bastion of al- Shabaab, a rebel official and residents said.
The incident over the weekend came as residents cited an increase in the frequency of drones flying over Kismayu in the past few weeks.
“This plane was a spy for the American government and by the will of Allah, it crashed near the airport,” al-Shabaab’s Sheikh Ibrahim Guled said yesterday.
“We did not target it but it fell down,” he said, although the group’s radio station in Kismayu claimed it was shot down by militants.
A Kismayu resident, who gave his name as Ali Gab, also confirmed he saw the crashed drone.
“I saw the plane at the police station. We did not see any damage on it,” he said, suggesting a technical fault may have caused the crash.
The United States has authorised covert operations in Somalia in the past. US special forces killed one of east Africa’s top al-Qaeda militants, Kenyan-born Saleh Ali Nabhan, in southern Somalia in September 2009.
US officials have said they have a list of suspects they believe are in Somalia and constantly monitor the country with a view to striking if any are spotted.
Al-Shabaab launched an insurgency against Somalia’s western-backed government four years ago.