Join Date: Mar 2000
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U.S. launched missile attack in Somalia
U.S. says it launched missile attack in Somalia
Pentagon official say military going after al-Qaida suspect in border town
MSNBC News Services
updated 18 minutes ago
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Pentagon officials said Monday the United States launched an air strike in Somalia to go after a terrorist suspect.
In the strike early Monday, Somali police said three missiles hit a Somali town held by Islamic extremists, destroying a home and seriously injuring eight people.
A Pentagon official said the U.S. military was going after an al-Qaida suspect in the town. As yet, there is no word on whether the suspect was hit. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the strike.
The strike follows one last year in which the U.S. shelled suspected al-Qaida targets in Somalia.
Prior to the statement, local witnesses said that planes fired three missiles that struck Dobley, some four miles from the Kenyan border. Remnants of an Islamic force that had once ruled much of southern Somalia took over Dobley last week.
A local official told Reuters that the missile was fired by a U.S. aircraft. "Two U.S missiles hit a house in Dobley early this morning," one local politician, who asked not to be named, told the wire service by telephone, adding that shrapnel from the missiles had been found.
"The town is very tense. People have started fleeing because they fear there might be more attacks."
"We woke up with a loud and big bang and when we came out we found our neighbor's house completely obliterated as if no house existed here," a resident of the town, Fatuma Abdullahi, told The Associated Press. "We are taking shelter under trees. Three planes were flying over our heads."
A police officer who gave only his first name, Siyad, because he was not authorized to speak to the media said the eight wounded were hit by shrapnel. He also said the planes were military aircraft.
An aid worker in Dobley said up to six people were still trapped in the rubble by midday. It was not clear if these victims were included in the police officer's tally.
"A minimum of two bombs were dropped," the aid worker, who asked that his name not be used because he is not authorized to speak to the media, told the AP by telephone. "Between four and six people are in the rubble."
Clan elder Ahmed Nur Dalab said a senior Islamic official, Hassan Turki, was in town Sunday to mediate between his fighters and a militia loyal to the government. Turki's forces took over Dobley last week.
In early 2007, Somali troops and their Ethiopian allies drove out a radical Islamic group to which Turki is allied that had taken over much of southern Somalia. The Islamic forces have fought to regain power.
Mired in chaos
Somalia has been mired in chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other.
On Monday, a rights group said all sides in Somalia's long-running conflict are united in at least one goal — trying to curtail independent media by "killing, arresting and threatening" reporters.
The report by London-based Amnesty International was released a day after government raids shut down three independent radio stations in Mogadishu. The soldiers forced the stations off the air, arrested a journalist and seized equipment.
"The troops came in, took our equipment and arrested our boss without explanation. We do not know why they are targeting us," Mohamed Abdullahi, a Shabelle radio staff member, told the AP. Shabelle's director, Muqtar Mohamed Hirabe, was arrested.
Mohamed Abukar, a presenter and producer at Radio Horn Afrik, said troops broke down its doors and ordered the station off the air. The other shuttered station was Simba.
Government officials declined to comment on the raids.
The targeted media houses have criticized both the government and the Islamic militants who have been trying to topple the administration through a bloody insurgency.
At least nine journalists have been killed since February 2007 and death threats and arrests have forced at least 50 others to seek refuge in neighboring countries, Amnesty said.
"The killings, arrests and death threats targeting Somali journalists are not just another unfortunate byproduct of the conflict and general insecurity in Somalia _ they are a deliberate and systematic attempt by all parties to the conflict to stem the flow of information out of the country," said Michelle Kagari, deputy director of Amnesty's Africa program.