NEW YORK, July 25: A new United Nations report says that the skies over Somalia are so congested with unmanned drone aircraft that they pose danger to air traffic and could be in violation of international arms embargo.
The UN officials describe several narrowly averted disasters in which drones crashed into a refugee camp, flew dangerously close to a fuel dump and almost collided with a large passenger plane over Mogadishu.
A report in the Washington Post said on Wednesday that while the UN investigators did not directly pin the blame for the mishaps on the United States, but it noted that at least two of the unmanned aircraft appeared to be US-manufactured and suggested that Washington had been less than forthcoming about its drone operations in Somalia.
The US government is known to have used drones to carry out lethal attacks in at least six countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The negotiations that preceded the establishment of the base in Seychelles illustrate the efforts the United States is making to broaden the range of its drone weapons.
Although the drone missions have long been an open secret, the Obama administration acknowledged last month for the first time that it “is engaged in a robust range of operations to target Al Qaeda and associated forces, including in Somalia.”