Conflicting reports emerge over US role in war against militia

Friday October 28 2011

US ambassador Jonathan Scott Gration. Photo/FILE

US ambassador Jonathan Scott Gration. Photo/FILE 

By SATURDAY NATION CORRESPONDENTS

The secrecy enshrouding the US extensive network of unpiloted aircraft in East Africa is producing conflicting claims regarding US drone operations in Somalia.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that armed Reaper drones are being flown on counter-terrorism missions from a civilian airport in the southern Ethiopian city of Arba Minch.

The BBC, however, reported that the Ethiopia-based drones are unarmed and are being used only for surveillance.

Both accounts cite US officials as their source.

Back home, US ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration denied involvement in the Kenyan operation against Al-Shabaab. (READ: US denies Al-Shabaab role)

He said his country was only assisting Kenya in ensuring internal stability.

“We don’t have a military operation outside the borders of Kenya,” the envoy said at a news conference at the Department of Defence, Nairobi.

“We have been providing assistance in an overt way through the Kenya Navy, Army and Air Force for a long time and we will continue doing so.

“Our support is through equipment,” Mr Gration, who was once an instructor at the Kenya Airforce, said.