US launches strike against Al Qaeda in Somalia

March 4th, 2008 - 5:26 am ICT by admin  

DPA
Washington, March 4 (DPA) The US military has carried out an air strike in a southern Somali town against a suspected Al Qaeda operative, a US defence official said. “We launched a precision strike against a known terrorist in southern Somalia,” the defence official said Monday.

The official did not provide details of the strike that occurred Sunday or provide more information about the target. The US in the past has attacked Al Qaeda operatives in the Horn of Africa nation.

White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the US would continue targeting Al Qaeda operatives.

“The United States is going to go after Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda affiliated operatives wherever we find them,” he said.

The attack reportedly targeted two houses in the town of Dobley allegedly frequented by senior Islamist leader Hassan Turki, who is believed to have ties to Al Qaeda. At least six people were killed in the strike, witnesses said.

“I woke up to loud blasts and flashing lights that shook my doors and windows. Airplanes were flying at a low altitude and were firing. I ran outside and hid under trees,” said Saed Abdulle, an elder in Dobley, which is just north of the border with Kenya.

Turki was in the region to mediate a conflict between his militias and government security forces, residents said.

Washington has been concerned that Somalia has become a safe haven and recruiting ground for Al Qaeda, and backed a successful Ethiopian effort in January 2007 to oust an Islamist group, known as the Union of Islamic Courts, which had seized power and isolated Somalia’s transitional government.

In the same month, US AC-130 gunships fired on suspected Al Qaeda agents in southern Somalia.

The ouster sparked an insurgency by remnants of the Islamist group in the capital Mogadishu, where the transitional government has been unable to assert its authority. The conflict left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced 600,000.

Hard-line Islamists, including those who helped coordinate the twin 1998 bombings on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, are believed to be hiding in Somalia’s south.
DPA

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