Somali insurgents vow revenge against US for Al Qaeda raid

September 15th, 2009 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, Sep 15 (DPA) Somali insurgent group al-Shabaab Tuesday vowed to retaliate against the US as it confirmed that one of its “top leaders” died in a US raid.
Kenyan-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, wanted in connection with several terrorist attacks in neighbouring Kenya, was reportedly killed by US forces in a strike on Somali soil Monday.

“It is a clear that one of our top leaders died in yesterday’s aggressive American attack,” Sheikh Mohamed Ali Abu Ayuub, one of al-Shabaab’s top commanders in the capital Mogadishu, told DPA.

“I can’t tell you who they are, but some of us died… It will not deter our operations and we will retaliate against those involved in the attack, especially the Americans,” he added.

The US has been tracking Nabhan since the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa, which claimed 15 lives.

He was also suspected of being behind a near-simultaneous failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner as it left Mombasa.

Some believe he also played a role in the 1998 simultaneous bombings of the US embassies in Kenyan capital Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in which over 200 people died.

Nabhan was believed to have fled to Somalia, where he has been helping al-Shabaab in its attempts to topple the Western-backed government.

Witnesses told DPA that at least two helicopters were involved in the attack on cars carrying al-Shabaab militants in southern Somalia.

Four other militants were killed in the attack, which some witnesses said was carried out by French forces. However, France denied any involvement in the raid.

The soldiers took two bodies with them, witnesses said.

US officials told American media that two helicopters carrying US troops were despatched from a US warship and that they were confident the body they retrieved was Nabhan’s.

The US has previously carried out airstrikes against targets in Somalia, last May killing al-Shabaab leader Aden Hashi Ayro in one such attack.

Together with its ally Hizbul Islam, al-Shabaab - which the US says has close links with Al Qaeda - has been battling to remove Western-backed President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

The Horn of Africa nation has been embroiled in chaos since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, but the situation degenerated rapidly since the insurgency kicked off in early 2007 following an Ethiopian invasion.

More than 250,000 people have fled renewed fighting in Mogadishu since May, bringing the total number of displaced within Somalia to over 1.5 million.

More than 18,000 people have died since the insurgency began and over half of the Somali population are now dependent on food aid due to the conflict and drought.

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