Friday, May 31, 2013
Somali militants who claim to have shot down a US drone during a gunfight with African forces have published photographs of what appear to be its mangled remains.
The Camcopter S-100, made by Austrian arms manufacturer Scheibel, crashed on Tuesday in southern Somalia, where African troops are fighting Islamist al Shabaab insurgents.
Al Shabaab released the pictures through its English language Twitter account, boasting: 'This one will no longer be able to spy on Muslims again. So much for the empty rhetoric on the drone program!'
Eye in the sky: Pictures appear to show the mangled remains of a Camcopter S-100, one of which crashed on Tuesday in southern Somalia, where African troops are fighting Islamist al Shabaab insurgents
Schiebel: The downed aircraft bears the insignia of Schiebel, the Austrian arms firm whose clients include the German, United Arab Emirate and US goverments
Boasting: Al Shabaab released the pictures through its English language Twitter account, declaring: 'This one will no longer be able to spy on Muslims again. So much for the empty rhetoric on the drone program!'
Alongside another picture, the militant group added: 'This one is off to the scrap yard, Schiebel! You are fighting a losing battle. Islam will prevail.'
MailOnline has been unable to independently verify the images.
Although the United States does not report its activities in Somalia, A Defense Department spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that a 'military remotely piloted aircraft crashed in a remote area near the shoreline of Mogadishu.'
The US has increasingly turned to drones in recent years to kill Somali and foreign al Shabaab fighters seeking to overthrow the Somali government and install Sharia rule.
The Camcopter S-100: The US has increasingly turned to drones in recent years to kill Somali and foreign al Shabaab fighters seeking to overthrow the Somali government and install Sharia rule
Lower Shabelle region governor Abdikadir Mohamed Nur said that al Shabaab militants had shot at the aircraft over the town of Bulamareer for several hours before it crashed.
'Finally they hit it and the drone crashed,' Nur told Reuters.
The insurgents confirmed that a drone had crashed but did not say if they had downed it.
'A U.S. drone has just crashed near one of the towns under the administration of the Mujahideen in the Lower Shabelle region,' al Shabaab said on a social media account.
Militant: A member of Somalia's al Shabaab militant group sits during a public demonstration to announce their integration with al Qaeda, in Elasha, south of the capital Mogadishu, Somalia, in February last year
Western nations are worried that Somalia will sink back into chaos and provide a launchpad for Islamist militancy despite a fragile recovery after two decades of war.
Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon was seeking to send drones to Kenya as part of a $40 million-plus military aid package to help four African countries fighting al Qaeda and al Shabaab militants
Bulamareer residents said al Shabaab fighters had kept them away from the crash site.
'Al Shabaab fighters surrounded the scene. We are not allowed to go near it,' resident Aden Farah told Reuters.
Al Shabaab, which is affiliated with al Qaeda, said in January 2011 that a missile launched from a drone had killed Bilal el Berjawi, a Lebanese al Shabaab fighter who held a British passport.
Power base: Al-Shabaab, which means 'The Youth' in Arabic, was formed in 2006 as a radical offshoot of the Islamic justice system and is thought to have between to 9,000 and 15,000 members
Another missile killed four foreign militants south of the Somali capital Mogadishu in February 2012.
Al-Shabaab, which means 'The Youth' in Arabic, was formed in 2006 as a radical offshoot of the Islamic justice system and is thought to have between to 9,000 and 15,000 members.
But the group was driven out of Mogadishu in late 2011 and are struggling to hold on to territory elsewhere in the face of attacks by Kenyan, Ethiopian and African Union forces trying to prevent Islamist militancy spreading out from Somalia.
Al-Shabaab wants to overthrow the Somali government and controls large swathes of the country's southern territory, where it is believed to have imposed its own strict form of Sharia law.
Their main targets are the TFG and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AU).
However, the group's popularity in Somalia is taking a turn for the worse due to the recent drought, which many believe al-Shabaab intensified by refusing entry to UN aid workers.