A US surveillance drone has been shot down in the southern Somali town of Bulo Marer today, according to Lower Shabelle Governor Abdelkadir Nur, who says militants in the town had been shooting at it for several hours and “finally they hit it.”
Al-Shabaab also issued a statement confirming that the drone crashed, though they didn’t include any details on how. They released photos of the crash site on Twitter later in the day.
Bulo Marer has been an al-Shabaab stronghold for quite some time, and was the site of the disastrous January attack in which French troops tried to rescue a hostage spy. Not only was the spy not rescued, but at least eight civilians were killed in the botched raid. Al-Shabaab also claimed to have captured another French soldier in the attack, though that has been disputed by French officials.
US drones are a common sight in southern Somalia, with surveillance drones occasionally being replaced by attack drones. The Pentagon said they assume the drone just crashed on its own, and that it was flying too high to be easily shot down. Still, the ever-present drones seem like a magnet for gunfire, and militants have a strong incentive to figure out ways to down them.