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EU airstrike on Somali pirates echoes US drone strategy

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The European reticence to put boots on the ground contrasts with the recently redefined, more assertive US approach to combating Somalia's combined challenges of piracy and growing radical Islamism. 

In January President Barack Obama ordered a small unit of elite Navy Seals deep into pirate territory in central Somalia to rescue Jessica Buchanan, an American aid worker, and her Danish colleague, Poul Thisted. 

It was the first time that Washington admitted that US “boots” were ashore in Somalia, but defense sources and Somali eye witnesses have reported on several occasions in the past that American forces have carried out raids in the country. This has always been denied by US government officials. 

Meanwhile, unmanned drones launched from a circle of US airbases, or airports in countries allied to Washington, have targeted – often successfully – agents of Al Shabab, Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants.

'A dangerous game'

By bringing its fighting strategy more in line with that of the US, Europe is playing “a very dangerous game," says Bronwyn Burton,  deputy director of the Michael S. Ansari Center at The Atlantic Council and an expert on Somalia. 

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