Thursday, August 25, 2011

US surveillance drone crashes in Pakistan

A US Predator unmanned drone is pictured
at Kandahar military airport
© AFP/File Massoud Hossaini
AFP

QUETTA, Pakistan (AFP) - An American surveillance drone crashed in southwestern Pakistan on Thursday near a paramilitary base close to the Afghan border, Pakistani officials said.

"It was an American surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle. It crashed on this side of the border," a security official in the area told AFP.

He said the drone had come down -- apparently due to a technical fault -- some two kilometres inside Pakistani territory in Chaman town in insurgency-hit Baluchistan province, but had caused no damage.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the wreckage of the aircraft had been recovered.

An official from Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps in Quetta, the province's main town, confirmed the incident.

"Some spare parts and a camera were also found with it," that official said. "It crashed near a Frontier Corps fort in Chaman but caused no damage."

Such crashes of US aircraft are rare in Pakistan but one of the country's own surveillance drones crashed in the city of Karachi in July after hitting a bird on a routine flight.

In September 2008 tribesmen in the country's South Waziristan tribal district claimed to have shot down a US surveillance drone in Jalal village near the Afghan border.

The Pakistani army said it was investigating but did not make the results of that probe public.

The United States uses unmanned aircraft in its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and to monitor militants in Pakistan, from where Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked fighters launch attacks in Afghanistan.

The United States uses unmanned aircraft
to monitor militants in Pakistan
© AFP/File Sophie Ramis
It also uses Predator armed drones to launch missile attacks aimed at militants in the country's northwestern border areas.

The campaign is deeply unpopular among an anti-American public and the government has publicly demanded an end to the attacks, although in private military and civilian leaders are thought to co-operate with the programme.

The New York Times reported this month that Pakistan probably let Chinese engineers examine the wreckage of a top-secret US stealth helicopter that crashed in the country during the raid killing Osama bin Laden.

Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said US intelligence agencies concluded it was likely that Chinese engineers -- at the invitation of Pakistani spies -- took detailed photographs of the severed tail of the Black Hawk helicopter equipped with classified technology designed to elude radar.

Relations between Pakistan and the United States are at a low point, strained by the covert American raid that killed bin Laden near Pakistan's main military academy and Pakistan's earlier detention of a CIA contractor.

© AFP -- Published at Activist Post with license


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