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US expanding secret spy network in Africa

The United States military is expanding its secret intelligence operations in Africa to spy on militant groups.

Us military africa spy network surveillance june 14 2012Enlarge
Islamist rebels of Ansar Dine are pictured on April 24, 2012 near Timbuktu, rebel-held northern Mali, during the release of a Swiss hostage. According to The Washington Post, the US military has expanded its surveillance network in Africa to keep track of militants and terrorists, using small planes equipped with sensors. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

The US military is expanding secret intelligence operations across Africa through a program that dates back to 2007, according to the Washington Post.

The network of small air bases are used to spy on terrorist hideouts using small planes which look like private aircrafts, said The Post, citing documents and people involved with the project.

The planes are equipped with sensors that can record video, track heat patters and track radio and cell phone signals, and refuel at airstrips that are normally used by African bush pilots.

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The US Africa Command did not respond to questions from The Post, but said, "We do, however, work closely with our African partners to facilitate access, when required, to conduct missions or operations that support and further our mutual security goals."

According to US and African officials, about a dozen bases have been set up in Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Seychelles, said Voice of America.

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Colonel Cyrus Oguna, a spokesman for the Kenyan Defense Forces, said, "As far as we are concerned, US is not using any Kenyan air space or any bases from where they can be able to launch observation vessels. However, I know that we do have bilateral arrangements in terms of sharing information and intelligence to fight terror," according to VoA.

The bases in Burkina Faso and Mauritania focus on Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, whereas Uganda's bases keep an eye on the Lord's Resistance Army and the bases in East Africa keep a close watch on Somalia's Al Shabaab militants who are now affiliated with Al Qaeda, said Agence France Presse.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120614/us-expanding-secret-spy-network-africa