WASHINGTON (AP) - The top Republican on the House Intelligence
Committee says the Peruvian air force, with the help of the CIA, shot down 15 small civilian aircraft suspected of carrying drugs between 1995 and 2001.
Among the victims were an American missionary family from Michigan. Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter were killed in a 2001 shootdown. Her husband, son and the pilot survived when the pilot was able to make an emergency landing in a river. But most of the planes crashed in the jungle and the wreckages were never recovered or checked to see if the planes actually had been carrying drugs.
Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra tells The Associated Press that in many cases the planes were brought down without warning and within two to three minutes of being sighted.
It's the first public disclosure of the number of planes shot down as part of the CIA-sponsored counternarcotics effort.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)