US Spy Drone Shot Down by Rebels in Colombia
News from Colombia |
on: Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Colombia's leftwing FARC guerrilla group say they have brought down an unmanned US spy plane somewhere over the eastern jungles of Colombia. A photograph of the aircraft has been posted online though the rebels did not specify where exactly the plane was shot down.
The Colombian military is not known to have such aircraft though US military assistance to Colombia includes help with intelligence gathering and the aircraft is therefore believed to belong to US forces in Colombia.
In the past decade several US aircraft, most owned by the US State Department though some thought to be being used by the CIA, have either crashed or been brought down by rebel fire in Colombia – though this is thought to be the first time that an unmanned aircraft has been involved. Due to the classified nature of the missions, the US authorities routinely refuse to confirm or deny details of such incidents though details of many of them have leaked out.
It is known, for example, that around 20 US military and intelligence officers have been killed in the incidents and that 2003 was a particularly bad year after at least five aircraft were brought down. Those killed included three US intelligence officers whose plane came down in March 2003 over southern Colombia as they searched for three alleged CIA agents that had been taken prisoner by the FARC the previous month after their own plane had been shot down by the guerrillas in the same region. The prisoners were rescued in 2008 after five years in jungle camps.