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US Shuts Down Drone Base in Ethiopia

  • VOA News

The U.S. government has shut down a drone base in southern Ethiopia that was part of the U.S. anti-terrorism effort in the region.

The U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa told VOA Monday that "U.S. military personnel are no longer in Arba Minch," the town where the base was located.

Embassy press officer Katherine Diop said in an e-mail that the U.S. and Ethiopia reached "a mutual decision that our presence in Arba Minch is not required at this time."

The U.S. base opened in 2011 and was used to launch drones over Somalia, home to the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

The Washington Post reported at the time that the drones could be equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs. The U.S. Defense Department said the aircraft were unarmed and used only for surveillance.

Embassy spokeswoman Diop said the U.S. presence in Arba Minch was never meant to be permanent.

The U.S. military operates other drone bases in and around East Africa, including one on the Seychelles islands.

Several al-Shabab leaders have been killed in U.S. drone strikes, including the group's chief, Ahmed Ali Godane, in September 2014.