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German military planes patrol skies over Somali coast !

MOMBASA,AFP-21st March 2002

German reconnaissance planes stationed in Kenya have begun daily patrol flights over the coast of neighbouring Somalia as part of the US-led anti-terrorism campaign, the misssion's commander said on Thursday.

"We have daily flights over Somalia of 10 hours each day using the sophisticated satellite and radar systems at our disposal," General Knut Huk told AFP. "There has been nothing interesting yet but the mission is on," he added.

Germany positioned three military planes at a Kenyan military facility outside the port city of Mombasa last week to watch over the east African sea lanes as part of the anti-terrorism fight.

The planes and more than 160 personnel are expected to stay in Kenya until the middle of this year. "Our mandate runs up to the end of June but we shall stay put if this is extended because of the nature and importance of the mission," said General Huk.

"We have reason to believe Somalia and its long coastline is an important area for concern owing to non-existence of a broadly recognised government," he added.

Germany had already 1,275 soldiers, as well as three frigates, four torpedo-firing patrol boats and four refueling tankers, mobilized in eastern Africa, supported by a logistical base in Djibouti, before the Kenyan unit was set up.

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