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US drone crashes at Seychelles airport

VICTORIA, Seychelles - A US drone crashed Tuesday at Seychelles international airport on the main island of Mahe, the US embassy said.

The remote-piloted MQ-9 aircraft crashed on landing but no one was hurt, said the US embassy in Mauritius, which also handles the Seychelles. The drone was operating from the Seychelles, it said.

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"The MQ-9 was not armed and no injuries were reported," it said. "The runway at the airport has reopened for normal traffic. The cause of the incident is unknown and currently under investigation."

The US drones began anti-piracy surveillance in late 2009 after the Syechelles and the US Africa Command tested the aircraft to be used in seeking out Somali gunmen prowling the Indian Ocean.

With 115 islands scattered inside an exclusive economic zone spanning 1.4 million square kilometres, a population of only 85,000 and a military of 500, the Seychelles requested foreign assistance to stave off the pirates.

US drones also overfly Somalia from an Ethiopian airbase, but Washington officials have denied media reports that the aircraft are armed and attack Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militia fighting the Western-backed Somali government.

by Mathieu Rabechault
© 2011 AFP
Published on ASDNews: Dec 13, 2011


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