Djibouti Kicks US Drones Out of Main Airport

Move follows several accidents, could hurt hunt for al-Shabab
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2013 12:30 PM CDT
File photo of a US Predator drone.   (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini, Pool, File)

(Newser) – It might have just gotten a little tougher for the US military to keep an eye on al-Shabab, the terrorist group behind the mall attack in Nairobi. The African nation of Djibouti has forced the US to remove a fleet of drones from a major military camp in the country, reports the Washington Post. The reason is a little unusual: The camp shares a runway with the country's main airport, and the drones have been involved in a series of accidents. At least five from Camp Lemonnier have crashed since January 2011.

As a result, the US had to move the drones from the capital to a far more remote airstrip. It could be a significant move because, as the Post tells it, "the base serves as the combat hub for counterterrorism operations in Yemen and Somalia, playing a critical role in US operations against al-Shabab." The shift occurred this month, and the Pentagon isn't saying whether it's resulted in fewer surveillance flights or drone strikes on camps. (Meanwhile, retired F-16s are being retrofitted to fly as unmanned drones.)

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