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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 14:18 GMT
German spy planes bound for Horn
German forces set off for Afghanistan
German troops went to Afghanistan in early January
Germany is sending military reconnaissance planes to help patrol shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa.

The aircraft will be based in Kenya.

The move comes as part of the US-led campaign against terrorism.

Germany already has a number of warships based in Djibouti taking part in the same operation.

Their mission involves gathering intelligence about possible terrorist activity in the region and looking out for al-Qaeda or Taleban suspects fleeing Afghanistan.

Correspondents say Washington fears that a lack of central authority in Somalia, Kenya's north-eastern neighbour, could make it an ideal haven for militants.

Mombasa basing

Two long-range surveillance planes are flying out from Germany on Wednesday.

Another is to follow on Thursday, along with a flight transporting support staff.

The German forces will deploy in Kenya at a small airport near the port city of Mombasa, a German military spokesman said.

The German contingent there is expected to number 180 eventually.

This is in addition to more than 1,200 soldiers and several naval vessels supported by a logistical base in Djibouti - Germany's biggest naval deployment since World War Two.

German warships began patrolling the shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa in early February.

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Americas
US freezes Saudi charity assets
04 Feb 02 | Middle East
Yemen deports foreign students
11 Dec 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Somalis feel US squeeze
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