U.S. Involvement and
Bombings in Somalia
2006 to present



  1. ”U.S. backs Ethiopian attacks in Somalia,” GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press, December 26, 2006

  2. ”Somalia's sudden shift in power,” Amber Henshaw, BBC News, Addis Ababa, January 3, 2007

  3. Somalia and Ethiopia timeline, BBC, January 3, 2007

  4. ”U.S. involved in Somalia: patrols Somalia for terrorist watch,” GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press, January 3, 2007

  5. ”Somali president rules out dialogue,” Aljazeera, January 8, 2007

  6. ”U.S. strike targets al-Qaida in Somalia,” Associated Press, January 8, 2007

  7. ”U.S. launches airstrike in Somalia,” MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN, Associated Press, January 9, 2007

  8. ”U.S. reportedly targeted 20 in Somalia,” MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN, Associated Press, January 10, 2007

  9. "U.S. Used Base in Ethiopia to Hunt Al-Qaeda in Africa," Michael R. Gordon and Mark Mazzetti, NY Times, February 23, 2007

  10. ”U.S. warship bombards Somalia militants,” MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN, Associated Press, June 2, 2007

  11. “U.S. launches missile strike in Somalia,” Sahra Abdi Ahmed, Reuters, March 3, 2008

  12. "leader of al-Qaida in Somalia reportedly dies in U.S. airstrike," Mohamed Olad Hassan, Associated Press, May 1, 2008

  13. "U.S. confirms Somali missile strike that killed at least eleven," Tehran Times, May 3, 2008



U.S. backs Ethiopian
attacks in

By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer

December 26, 2006

The State Department signaled support Tuesday for Ethiopian military operations against Somalia, noting that Ethiopia has had "genuine security concerns" stemming from the rise of Islamist forces in its eastern neighbor.

Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos also noted that the Ethiopian military acted at the request of Somalia's internationally-backed secular government, which has been resisting with little success the spreading influence of the more powerful Islamist forces.

Gallegos had no information on whether the United States has been bolstering the Ethiopian military through delivery of supplies. He noted that Ethiopia has said that its action is intended to prevent further aggression by the Islamic Courts militias.

The Bush administration has been increasingly alarmed by the growing strength of the militias and the welcome they reportedly have given to al-Qaida militants.

The Islamic militants operate under the umbrella of the Council of Islamic Courts.

The government has no presence in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, its reach limited to the western town of Baidoa. In contrast, the CIC has dominated the country's entire southern region.

A priority U.S. goal in Somalia is the capture of three reputed al-Qaida militants wanted for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and a hotel in Kenya in 2002. The three are from Sudan, Kenya and the Comoros Islands, located off Africa's east coast.

Al-Qaida militants are operating with "great comfort" in Somalia, Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer said recently.

The Islamists have caused unease in Washington by expressing interest in establishing a "Greater Somalia" that would include ethnic Somali regions of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.

Two weeks ago, the Pentagon recommended a new U.S. military command for Africa, which is seen as having greater strategic importance to the United States since the start of the fight against terrorism.

At present, U.S. military responsibility for Africa has been split among several commands, all based elsewhere.

The United States consistently has backed the establishment of an African force to help defend the Baidoa government, thus creating a power balance between the government and the CIC and enhance prospects for negotiations on power sharing.

But with Ethiopia's invasion, creation of the force now seems highly unlikely.

Ethiopia has been backing the Somali government for months, while Eritrea has been supporting the Islamists.

A report by a U.N. panel last month said that in addition to Ethiopia and Eritrea, weapons had been sent to armed groups in Somalia by Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Iran, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Uganda. Most of the nations have denied the allegations.

The shipments would be in violation of a U.N. arms embargo against Somalia, in effect since 1992.

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Somalia's sudden shift in power

By Amber Henshaw
BBC News, Addis Ababa
January 3, 2007


The dramatic turn-around in Somalia within the last two weeks caught everyone on the hop - journalists, analysts, even perhaps the soldiers.


Ten days ago, the Union of Islamic Courts was in control of the capital Mogadishu and large parts of the south.

The transitional government was on its back foot. But, just days later, the situation is pretty much reversed.


Things have been moving so fast that people have had little time to consider the really big question - what next?


Return to power vacuum


Islamist leaders say they have retreated for tactical reasons, and because they wanted to avoid further bloodshed.


The worst case scenario for the future is that the situation could end up mirroring Afghanistan or Iraq: a quick defeat followed by protracted fighting from insurgents.


Diplomats in Addis Ababa believe this is a real possibility.




They say what happens next will depend on what the transitional government does.


The Union of Islamic Courts stoked these concerns yesterday by warning they will start an insurgency.


The head of the Islamic movement in the Kismayo region said, "Even if we are defeated we will start an insurgency.


"We will kill every Somali that supports the government and Ethiopians."


Before the Union of Islamic Courts took charge there was a power vacuum in Somalia.


Until June, warlords controlled Mogadishu which was lawless and dangerous.


The transitional government was isolated in the southern town of Baidoa where it has its headquarters.


Matt Bryden, an expert on Somalia, said the courts expanded into a vacuum left by the transitional government's failure to govern.

He says the transitional government is not popular with the residents of Mogadishu.


"So now we are here. The courts have been beaten but it is still the same old transitional government and the vacuum has been reinforced by the collapse of the Union of Islamic Courts."


He said it was unlikely that the transitional government would be able to fill that vacuum without the help of powerful clan leaders.


Many believe the government now needs to include the clan leaders and the remnants of the Union of Islamic Courts to prevent the power vacuum opening up again.


Some believe this would pave the way for an insurgency.


Ethiopian influence


There is no way the transitional government would be in the position it is today without Ethiopia's military help.


But what about the Ethiopians' role now? Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has made it clear throughout that he wants his troops out of Somalia as quickly as possible.


He says that Ethiopia is not in a position to help reconstruct its neighbour, although the threat of insurgency could mean he has to leave his troops across the border to help keep peace for longer than he originally wanted.


It seems, in this case, Ethiopia just wanted to protect its self-interest when it came to involvement in Somalia.


It was clearly nervous about the rise of the Islamists, fearing that extremists could create problems in the whole of the Horn of Africa.


Ethiopia's population is almost equally split between Orthodox Christians and Muslims who, in the main, live harmoniously side-by-side.


There were fears that this balance could be destroyed and problems could flare.


Three months ago, religious violence erupted in a town called Jimma west of Addis Ababa.


More than 15 people were killed. Some believed the problems started when religious extremists stirred up tensions in this predominantly Muslim area.




Addis Ababa's involvement may have increased the likelihood of terrorist attacks on Ethiopian soil but, in the end, Mr Zenawi must have decided that doing nothing was not an option.


The international community was certainly sceptical about Ethiopia sending troops across the border.


There are many risks and problems facing Somalia now, even though the Union of Islamic Courts have been beaten back.


The future, it seems, depends on how the victors play their cards and what the international community can offer to help rebuild this vulnerable nation.


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Somalia and Ethiopia timeline

BBC, January 3, 2007


Timeline: Ethiopia and Somalia


Ethiopia is backing the Somali interim government against Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). The BBC News website logs the two countries' troubled relationship.


1 January 2007

Somali government troops, supported by Ethiopian troops, seize the southern port of Kismayo - the last remaining stronghold of the UIC


28 December

Ethiopian-backed government forces capture the capital, Mogadishu, hours after Islamist fighters flee the city.


27 December

Ethiopian and Somali government troops take control of Jowhar, a strategic town previously held by the Islamists.


26 December

Forces loyal to the transitional government are reported to have taken control of the town of Burhakaba from the UIC. Other areas of southern and central Somalia are also said to have fallen under heavy assault from Somali and Ethiopian troops. Retreating Islamist militias are attacked by Ethiopian jets for a third day.


25 December

Ethiopian aircraft bomb Mogadishu airport.


24 December

Ethiopia for the first time admits its forces are fighting in Somalia, saying it has launched a "self-defensive" operation against Islamist militiamen. Fighting spreads across a 400km front along the border.


19 December

Deadline for Ethiopian troops to leave Somalia or face a "major attack" expires.


12 December

Islamic courts give Ethiopian troops one week to leave Somalia or face a "major attack".


8 December

Islamic courts say they have engaged in battle with Ethiopian troops for the first time - south-west of Baidoa.


3 December 2006

Talks are held between the two sides in Djibouti in an attempt to avert conflict.


30 November 2006

Ethiopia's parliament passes a resolution authorising the government to take all legal and necessary steps against what it terms as any invasion by the UIC.


28 November 2006

Eyewitnesses say Islamist fighters ambushed an Ethiopian convoy near Baidoa, blowing up a truck. The UIC claim some 20 Ethiopians died.


27 November 2006

The Islamic courts say Ethiopian forces shelled the northern town of Bandiradley and it ambushed an Ethiopian convoy near Baidoa.


25 October 2006

Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi says Ethiopia is "technically at war" with the UIC.


September 2006

Somalia's interim President Abdullahi Yusuf survives an assassination attempt.


21 July 2006

The Islamic court leadership orders a "holy war" against Ethiopians in Somalia.


20 July 2006

A column of Ethiopian trucks, more than 100-strong and including armoured cars, are seen crossing into Somalia. Ethiopia only admits to having military trainers in the country helping the interim government.


June 2006

The Islamic courts take control of the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, from rival warlords and go on to gain territory in much of southern territory.



Long-time Ethiopian ally and warlord, Abdullahi Yusuf becomes Somalia's interim president making Baidoa his base.



Ethiopian forces defeat Islamist fighters in the Somali town of Luuq.



Somalia descends into civil war between rival clan warlords.



Peace accord signed.


1964 and 1977

Two wars fought over Ethiopia's Somali-inhabited Ogaden

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U.S. involved in Somalia

U.S. patrols Somalia for terrorist watch

By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer
January 3, 2007

U.S. Navy vessels are deployed off the coast of Somalia to make sure al-Qaida or allied jihadists don't escape the country by sea now that the once-dominant Islamist forces there are in retreat, the State Department said Wednesday.

Of particular concern is the fate of three al-Qaida militants who were believed by U.S. officials to be under the protection of the Islamic Courts Union in Mogadishu until Ethiopian forces drove the Courts from power in recent days.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the missions off the coast are being carried out by a U.S. task force based in the Horn of Africa,

The al-Qaida militants are believed to have had a role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and in the 2002 bombing of a hotel in Kenya.

Kenya sent extra troops to its border with Somalia on Wednesday to keep Islamic militants from entering the country

McCormack said the administration is planning to provide food to Somalia, adding that U.S. officials will take part in a donors conference soon to determine further needs and how they can be met.

Also planned is a meeting of U.S., European and African countries, along with international institutions on Friday in Kenya for a discussion of humanitarian and security issues.

McCormack said the United States continues to support the creation of an all-Africa force to help out the transitional government as it seeks to consolidate its authority in Mogadishu. Until the Islamic Courts were forced out, the government had been confined to the western town of Baidoa, unable to assert its authority nationwide despite U.N. and United States backing.

The U.S. efforts on the humanitarian and peacekeeping fronts are part of an overall international initiative "to move Somalia out of the category of a failed state," McCormack said.

The spokesman stopped short of an outright endorsement of the Ethiopian attack but said it was apparent that the Islamic Courts had fallen under the control "of those that had links to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups."

These groups, he said, "quite clearly were interested in imposing draconian types of interpretations" of Islamic law on Somalia in contravention of the polices of the transitional government.

Before Ethiopian troops launched their offensive last week, "we certainly would have hoped that there could have been a negotiated, political dialogue," McCormack said.

"But it became apparent over time, and certainly very apparent in the recent weeks, that that wasn't going to happen and that the Islamic Courts were intent upon trying to seize control over all of Somalia through use of arms," he said.

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Somali president rules out dialogue

Aljazeera, January 8, 2007



The president of the transitional Somali government has ruled out negotiations with the Council of Islamic Courts, now besieged in the country's southern tip.


Abdullahi Yusuf entered Mogadishu, the capital, on Monday for the first time since taking office in 2004, protected by his soldiers and Ethiopian troops who helped rout the Islamic courts. 


"With regard to holding talks with the courts, this will not happen," Yusuf told Al Jazeera in an interview before flying to Mogadishu.


"We will crack down on the terrorists in any place around the nation."


Yusuf said that Somalis who hate the presence of Ethiopian troops on their soil are in the minority.


He said: "We are a legitimate government which requested the help of Ethiopian troops so we could achieve security and stability in Somalia.

"We are working so alternative troops can replace the Ethiopians such as African troops. And if Arab states want to send troops, we have no objection."


Yusuf also told Al Jazeera that his country needs the peacekeepers to back up the Somali army now stationed all over the country to quell violence.


Mop-up campaign


Even as the Somali president spoke, Ethiopian jets and soldiers attacked the remnants of the Islamic courts, part of a campaign to finish off the hard core of the militia who have vowed to fight on.


Hassan Mursal, a local resident, told Reuters: "The warplanes this morning struck at a location 18km from Afmadow where Islamic troops are hiding. So many Ethiopian and government troops driving dozens of military trucks passed there today."


Earlier on Monday, government and Ethiopian forces captured what they said was a jungle base used by the militia in southern Somalia.


A government military commander said later that Ras Kamboni was taken after a two-day campaign using ground forces and air support.


Mohammed Adow, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Somalia, said: "Taking over Ras Kamboni denies Islamist fighters a base from which to launch their guerrilla attacks.


"It leaves them sandwiched between the US forces patrolling the coast and Kenyan forces stationed at the border."




Yusuf's entry into Mogadishu marked a remarkable turnaround in the Somali capital that the Islamic courts ruled for six months until the end of December.


"The president has arrived. He is now in Villa Somalia," Abdirahman Dinari, the government spokesman, said.


The bullet-scarred Villa Somalia compound is the former palace of Mohamed Siad Barre, whose overthrow in 1991 as Somalia's last national president triggered more than 15 years of anarchy.


The UN-recognised transitional authorities had been unable to install itself in Mogadishu first because of local commanders in the government who opposed giving up their turf, and later because of the Islamic courts.


Adow said: "There are many government soldiers on the streets [of Mogadishu], but underneath it looks as though no one is in charge."


Alternative force


The Ethiopians have said they want to pull out of Somalia in a matter of weeks, while an African peacekeeping force is being assembled to fill the anticipated vacuum in security, which the Somali transitional government admits it cannot handle on its own.


In Addis Ababa, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) agreed to increase the number of troops to be deployed to Somalia from a proposed 8,000-strong deployment.


An official said on Monday the AU would meet again to decide on how many.


"The security council underlined the need for an urgent deployment of peace support mission to Somalia," Said Djinnit, the AU's peace and security commissioner, said.


Political process


Djinnit said: "The council also stressed the need for an all-inclusive political process as called for in [the Somalia] charter."


He said the meeting had called on other countries to fund the peace mission.


Abdikarim Farah, Somalia's ambassador to the AU, said the deployment of peacekeepers would require $150m for the first six months.


The US said on Friday that it was contributing $16m and the European Union has said it would also contribute.


Louis Michel, the EU aid commissioner, said in Brussels: "But first of all we want to know which kind, which troops, how many people, which mandate, and so on."


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U.S. strike targets al-Qaida in Somalia

Associated Press, January 8, 2007

The U.S. military launched a strike against several suspected members of al-Qaida in Somalia, a government official said Monday night.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the operation's sensitivity, said at least one AC-130 gunship was used in the attack.

CNN, NBC and CBS first reported the military action. Citing Pentagon officials, CBS said the targets included the senior al-Qaida leader in East Africa and an al-Qaida operative wanted for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The same operatives are also believed responsible for a 2002 attack on Israeli tourists in Kenya and an attempt to shoot down an Israeli aircraft the same day, NBC News reported.

The 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed more than 250 people. The 2002 attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya killed 15.

The White House on Monday night would not confirm the incident. Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Vician, a Defense Department spokesman, said he could neither confirm nor deny the reports of an airstrike.

There was no confirmation that the Air Force had killed either of the al-Qaida targets.

Air Force AC-130 gunships are heavily armed aircraft with elaborate sensors that can go after discreet targets — day or night. They are operated by the Special Operations Command and have been used heavily against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

U.S. Navy vessels have been deployed off the coast of Somalia to make sure al-Qaida or allied jihadists don't escape the country, the State Department said last Wednesday.

Somalia's effective central government fell in 1991, when clan-based warlords overthrew a military dictator and then turned on each other. The government was formed two years ago with the help of the United Nations, but has been weakened by internal rifts.

Soldiers loyal to Somalia's U.N.-backed government and Ethiopia's military late last month drove out a radical Islamic group that had been in control of the country for six months.

The U.S. has believed for years that a group of al-Qaida operatives has been hiding in Somalia.

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U.S. launches airstrike in Somalia

By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN, Associated Press Writer
January 9, 2007


A U.S. airstrike hit targets in southern Somalia where Islamic militants were believed to be sheltering suspects in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies, Somali officials and witnesses said Tuesday. Many people were reported killed.

Monday's attack was the first overt military action by the U.S. in Somalia since the 1990s and the legacy of a botched intervention — known as "Black Hawk Down" — that left 18 U.S. servicemen dead.

Helicopter gunships launched new attacks Tuesday near the scene of the U.S. airstrike, although it was not clear if they were American or Ethiopian aircraft, and it was not known if there were any casualties.

Two helicopters "fired several rockets toward the road that leads to the Kenyan border," said Ali Seed Yusuf, a resident of the town of Afmadow in southern Somalia.

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived off Somalia's coast and launched intelligence-gathering missions over Somalia, the military said. Three other U.S. warships are conducting anti-terror operations off the Somali coast.

U.S. warships have been seeking to capture al-Qaida members thought to be fleeing Somalia after Ethiopia invaded Dec. 24 in support of the government and drove the Islamic militia out of the capital and toward the Kenyan border.

The White House would not confirm the attack, nor would the Pentagon.

But a U.S. government official said at least one AC-130 gunship was used. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the operation's sensitivity.

AC-130 gunships have elaborate sensors that can go after targets day or night. They are operated by the Special Operations Command and have been used heavily against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The airstrike occurred Monday evening after the suspects were seen hiding on a remote island on the southern tip of Somalia, close to the Kenyan border, Somali officials said. The island and a site 155 miles north were hit.

The main target was Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who allegedly planned the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that killed 225 people.

He is also suspected of planning the car bombing of a beach resort in Kenya and the near simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner in 2002. Ten Kenyans and three Israelis were killed in the blast at the hotel, 12 miles north of Mombasa. The missiles missed the airliner.

Fazul, 32, joined al-Qaida in Afghanistan and trained there with Osama bin Laden, according to the transcript of an FBI interrogation of a known associate. He came to Kenya in the mid-1990s, married a local woman, became a citizen and started teaching at a religious school near Lamu, just 60 miles south of Ras Kamboni, Somalia, where one of the airstrikes took place Monday.

Largely isolated, the coast north of Lamu is predominantly Muslim and many residents are of Arab descent. Boats from Lamu often visit Somalia and the Persian Gulf, making the Kenya-Somalia border area ideal for him to escape.

President Abdullahi Yusuf told journalists in the capital, Mogadishu, that the U.S. "has a right to bombard terrorist suspects who attacked its embassies." Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Aideed told The Associated Press the U.S. had "our full support for the attacks."

But others in the capital said the attacks would only increase anti-American sentiment in the largely Muslim country.

"U.S. involvement in the fighting in our country is completely wrong," said Sahro Ahmed, a 37-year-old mother of five.

Already, many people in predominantly Muslim Somalia had resented the presence of troops from neighboring Ethiopia, which has a large Christian population and has fought two brutal wars with Somalia, most recently in 1977.

The U.S. Central Command reassigned the Eisenhower to Somalia last week from its mission supporting NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, said U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown in Bahrain, where the Navy's Fifth Fleet is based.

"Eisenhower aircraft have flown intelligence-gathering missions over Somalia," Brown told The Associated Press.

The spokesman said the Eisenhower was the only U.S. aircraft carrier in the region. The vessel is carrying approximately 60 aircraft, including four fighter jet squadrons, he said.

Ethiopia forces had invaded Somalia to prevent an Islamic movement from ousting the weak, internationally recognized government from its lone stronghold in the west of the country. The U.S. and Ethiopia both accuse the Islamic group of harboring extremists, among them al-Qaida suspects.

Ethiopian troops, tanks and warplanes took just 10 days to drive the Islamic group from the capital, Mogadishu, and other key towns.

Ethiopian and Somali troops had over the last days cornered the main Islamic force in Ras Kamboni, a town on Badmadow island, with U.S. warships patrolling off shore and the Kenyan military guarding the border to watch for fleeing militants.

Witnesses said at least four civilians were killed in another attack 30 miles east of Afmadow town, including a small boy. The claims could not be independently verified.

"My 4-year-old boy was killed in the strike," Mohamed Mahmud Burale told the AP by telephone. "We also heard 14 massive explosions."

The AC-130 is armed with 40 mm guns that fire 120 rounds per minute and a 105 mm cannon, normally a field artillery weapon. The gunships were designed primarily for battlefield use to place saturated fire on massed troops.

"We don't know how many people were killed in the attack but we understand there were a lot of casualties," government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said. "Most were Islamic fighters."

U.S. officials said after the Sept. 11 attacks that extremists with ties to al-Qaida operated a training camp at Ras Kamboni and al-Qaida members are believed to have visited it.

Leaders of the Islamic movement have vowed from their hideouts to launch an Iraq-style guerrilla war in Somalia, and al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden's deputy has called on militants to carry out suicide attacks on the Ethiopian troops.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since clan-based warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other, sinking the Horn of Africa nation of 7 million people into chaos.

A U.N. peacekeeping force, including U.S. troops, arrived in 1992, but the experiment in nation-building ended the next year when fighters loyal to clan leader Mohamed Farah Aideed shot down a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter and battled American troops, killing 18 servicemen.

At least 13 attempts at government have failed since then. The current government was established in 2004 with U.N. backing.

Associated Press writers Mohamed Sheik Nor and Salad Duhul in Mogadishu and Chris Tomlinson in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.

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U.S. reportedly targeted 20 in Somalia

By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN, Associated Press Writer

January 10, 2007

Ethiopia's prime minister said Wednesday the U.S. military targeted 20 high-level members of an Islamic movement linked to al-Qaida in an airstrike this week in southern Somalia, attacking quickly before the Islamists could escape.

The chief of staff for the Somali president claimed that a senior al-Qaida figure was killed in Monday's airstrike, although U.S. officials did not confirm it.

The air assault has been criticized internationally, with the African Union, European Union and United Nations among those expressing concern. But British Prime Minister Tony Blair told lawmakers it was right to stand up to extremists who were using violence to "get their way" in Somalia.

Somali lawmaker Abdulrashid Hidig said the U.S. launched a new airstrike Wednesday around Ras Kamboni, a rugged coastal area a few miles from the Kenyan border where Monday's attack took place. He cited the Somali military as the source of the information.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told reporters in his country's capital, Addis Ababa, that eight suspected terrorists were killed in Monday's airstrike, five were wounded and taken into custody by Ethiopian forces, and seven escaped.

Meles said most of the victims were Somali, but the identities would not be confirmed until DNA testing is completed.

He said Ethiopia and the U.S. have been cooperating on intelligence, and that most of the information has come from the Americans. He also said the Ethiopians did not provide any intelligence that led to Monday's airstrike.

"I do not know how the Americans got the information, but they appeared to have some credible information," he said. "Apparently they felt if they did not strike quickly, the target would be missed."

However, a U.S. military official based in the region said the Ethiopian military had provided the intelligence that led to the strike. "We acted on time-sensitive intelligence and made the strike in cooperation with the Ethiopians," said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding U.S. special operations missions.

In Washington, an intelligence official said the U.S. killed five to 10 people Monday in the attack on an al-Qaida target in southern Somalia. A Somali lawmaker said 31 civilians died Tuesday when helicopter gunships attacked suspected al-Qaida fighters in the south.

The U.S. military official said Tuesday's strike was probably carried out by Ethiopia since the aircraft were identified as Russian-made Hind helicopter gunships like those used by the Ethiopian military.

Abdirizak Hassan, the Somali president's chief of staff, said at least three U.S. airstrikes have been launched since Monday and that more were likely.

The al-Qaida suspect believed to have been killed Monday was Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who allegedly planned the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Hassan said. He cited a U.S. intelligence report that was given to Somali authorities.

If confirmed, it would mean the end of an eight-year hunt for one of the FBI's most-wanted terrorists. Fazul was believed to have been harbored by the Somali Islamic movement that had challenged the country's Ethiopian-backed government for power.

In Washington, U.S. government officials said they had no reason to believe that Fazul had been killed. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the information's sensitivity.

Fazul, 32, joined al-Qaida in Afghanistan and trained with Osama bin Laden, according to FBI documents. The U.S. put a $5 million bounty on his head for allegedly planning the embassy bombings, which killed 225 people.

This week's air attacks were the first U.S. offensive in Somalia since 18 American soldiers were killed here in 1993. The military's aim is to capture al-Qaida members thought to be fleeing advancing Ethiopian-backed Somali troops.

Somalia's Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Aided said Wednesday that U.S. special forces were needed on the ground to help Somali and Ethiopian troops capture Muslim extremists. "They have the know-how and the right equipment to capture these people," said Aided, a former U.S. Marine.

A senior Somali government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said a small U.S. operations team already was on the ground, providing military advice to Ethiopian and government forces.

In Washington, two senior Pentagon officials said Wednesday they had heard of no plans to put any sizable contingent of American ground troops in Somalia. Small teams of liaison officers — such as special forces advisers or trainers — were another matter, they said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the subject.

U.S. troops based in Djibouti have been training Ethiopian soldiers for years, mostly in small-unit tactics and border security. Ethiopia has the largest military and is America's closest ally in the region.

Meles said the success of the Ethiopian military intervention may have paved the way for the American airstrikes.

"No one expected the terrorists would be running around in groups of five or six without any protection," Meles said.

In the Somali capital, Mogadishu, some said the U.S. air attacks would increase anti-American sentiment in the largely Muslim country, where people are already upset by the presence of troops from Ethiopia, which has a large Christian population.

Associated Press writers Pauline Jelinek in Washington, Chris Tomlinson in Nairobi, Kenya, Terry Leonard in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jim Krane in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Salad Duhul in Mogadishu contributed to this report.

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U.S. Used Base in Ethiopia to
Hunt Al Qaeda in Africa



New York Times, February 23, 2007

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 — The American military quietly waged a campaign from Ethiopia last month to capture or kill top leaders of Al Qaeda in the Horn of Africa, including the use of an airstrip in eastern Ethiopia to mount airstrikes against Islamic militants in neighboring Somalia, according to American officials.

The close and largely clandestine relationship with Ethiopia also included significant sharing of intelligence on the Islamic militants’ positions and information from American spy satellites with the Ethiopian military. Members of a secret American Special Operations unit, Task Force 88, were deployed in Ethiopia and Kenya, and ventured into Somalia, the officials said.

The counterterrorism effort was described by American officials as a qualified success that disrupted terrorist networks in Somalia, led to the death or capture of several Islamic militants and involved a collaborative relationship with Ethiopia that had been developing for years.


But the tally of the dead and captured does not as yet include some Qaeda leaders — including Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam — whom the United States has hunted for their suspected roles in the attacks on American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. With Somalia still in a chaotic state, and American and African officials struggling to cobble together a peacekeeping force for the war-ravaged country, the long-term effects of recent American operations remain unclear.


It has been known for several weeks that American Special Operations troops have operated inside Somalia and that the United States carried out two strikes on Qaeda suspects using AC-130 gunships. But the extent of American cooperation with the recent Ethiopian invasion into Somalia and the fact that the Pentagon secretly used an airstrip in Ethiopia to carry out attacks have not been previously reported. The secret campaign in the Horn of Africa is an example of a more aggressive approach the Pentagon has taken in recent years to dispatch Special Operations troops globally to hunt high-level terrorism suspects. President Bush gave the Pentagon powers after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to carry out these missions, which historically had been reserved for intelligence operatives.


When Ethiopian troops first began a large-scale military offensive in Somalia late last year, officials in Washington denied that the Bush administration had given its tacit approval to the Ethiopian government. In interviews over the past several weeks, however, officials from several American agencies with a hand in Somalia policy have described a close alliance between Washington and the Ethiopian government that was developed with a common purpose: rooting out Islamic radicalism inside Somalia.


Indeed, the Pentagon for several years has been training Ethiopian troops for counterterrorism operations in camps near the Somalia border, including Ethiopian special forces called the Agazi Commandos, which were part of the Ethiopian offensive in Somalia.


Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to discuss details of the American operation, but some officials agreed to provide specifics because they saw it as a relative success story. They said that the close relationship had included the sharing of battlefield intelligence on the Islamists’ positions — a result of an Ethiopian request to Gen. John P. Abizaid, then the commander of the United States Central Command. John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence at the time, then authorized spy satellites to be diverted to provide information for Ethiopian troops, the officials said.


The deepening American alliance with Ethiopia is the latest twist in the United States’ on-and-off intervention in Somalia, beginning with an effort in 1992 to distribute food to starving Somalis and evolving into deadly confrontation in 1993 between American troops and fighters loyal to a Somali warlord, Mohammed Farah Aidid. The latest chapter began last June when the Council of Islamic Courts, an armed fundamentalist movement, defeated a coalition of warlords backed by the Central Intelligence Agency and took power in Mogadishu, the capital. The Islamists were believed to be sheltering Qaeda militants involved in the embassy bombings, as well as in a 2002 hotel bombing in Kenya.


After a failed C.I.A. effort to arm and finance Somali warlords, the Bush administration decided on a policy to bolster Somalia’s weak transitional government. This decision brought the American policy in line with Ethiopia’s.


As the Islamists’ grip on power grew stronger, their militias began to encircle Baidoa, where the transitional government was operating in virtual exile. Ethiopian officials pledged that if the Islamists attacked Baidoa, they would respond with a full-scale assault.


While Washington resisted officially endorsing an Ethiopian invasion, American officials from several government agencies said that the Bush administration decided last year that an incursion was the best option to dislodge the Islamists from power.


When the Ethiopian offensive began on Dec. 24, it soon turned into a rout, somewhat to the Americans’ surprise. Armed with American intelligence, the Ethiopians’ tank columns, artillery batteries and military jets made quick work of the poorly trained and ill-equipped Islamist militia.


“The Ethiopians just wiped out entire grid squares; it was a blitzkrieg,” said one official in Washington who had helped develop the strategy toward Somalia.

As the Islamists retreated, the Qaeda operatives and their close aides fled south toward a swampy region. Using information provided by Ethiopian forces in Somalia as well as American intelligence, a task force from the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command began planning direct strikes.

On Dec. 31, the largely impotent transitional government of Somalia submitted a formal request to the American ambassador in Kenya asking for the United States to take action against the militants.

General Abizaid called Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and informed him that the Central Command was sending additional Special Operations forces to the region. The deployment was carried out under the terms of an earlier, classified directive that gave the military the authority to kill or capture senior Qaeda operatives if it was determined that the failure to act expeditiously meant the United States would lose a “fleeting opportunity” to neutralize the enemy, American officials said.

On Jan. 6, two Air Force AC-130 gunships, aircraft with devastating firepower, arrived at a small airport in eastern Ethiopia. American Special Operations troops operating in Kenya, working with the Kenyan military, also set up positions along the southern border to capture militants trying to flee the country.

A Navy flotilla began to search for ships that might be carrying fleeing Qaeda operatives. Support planes were deployed in Djibouti. F-15Es from Al Udeid air base in Qatar also flew missions. Intelligence was shared with Ethiopia and Kenya through C.I.A. operatives in each country. American military planners also worked directly with Ethiopian and Kenyan military officials.

On Jan. 7, one day after the AC-130s arrived in Ethiopia, the airstrike was carried our near Ras Kamboni, an isolated fishing village on the Kenyan border.

According to American officials, the primary target of the strike was Aden Hashi Ayro, a young military commander trained in Afghanistan who was one of the senior leaders of the Council of Islamic Courts.

Several hours after the strike, Ethiopian troops and one member of the American Special Operations team arrived at the site and confirmed that eight people had been killed and three wounded, all of whom were described as being armed. After sifting through the debris, they found a bloodied passport and other items that led them to believe Mr. Ayro was injured in the strike and probably died. Several members of the Special Operations team were also in Somalia at the time of the strike, one official said.

The second AC-130 strike, on Jan. 23, had another of the Islamic council’s senior leaders, Sheik Ahmed Madobe, as its target. Mr. Madobe survived and was later captured by the Ethiopians, Americans say.

American officials said that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the mastermind of the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the alleged ringleader of Al Qaeda’s East African cell, remains at large. Some officials caution that while the Ethiopians have said additional “high-priority targets,” including Abu Talha al-Sudani, a leading member of the cell, were killed in their own airstrikes, American intelligence officials have yet to confirm this.

In late January, American officials played a role in securing the safe passage of Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the second-highest-ranking Islamist leader, from southern Somalia to Nairobi, Kenya. The exact role of American involvement is still not clear, but some American officials consider him to be a moderate Islamist.

Jeffrey Gettleman contributed reporting from Nairobi, Kenya.

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U.S. warship bombards
Somalia militants

By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN, Associated Press Writer
Satur5day, June 2, 2007

A U.S. warship pounded Somalia's remote coastal northeast, targeting Islamic militants hours after a gunbattle with Somali government forces that left eight insurgents dead, officials said Saturday.

The fighting late Friday, which the provincial government said included an American militant, appeared to mark the opening of a new front against Islamic militants in Puntland, a semiautonomous region that has remained relatively peaceful through Somalia's anarchy.

The government declared victory in April against insurgents in the Somali capital, which is in the south. Since then officials of the government and Ethiopian troops sent to prop it up have been targeted in bomb attacks.

"The insurgency appears to be spreading to other parts of Somalia," said Ted Dagne, specialist in African Affairs at the Congressional Research Service in Washington.

Puntland Vice President Hassan Dahir Mohamoud said eight foreign militants were killed in the fighting and Somali forces were pursuing five others. He told The Associated Press there were no civilian casualties because the area is uninhabited.

Mohamoud said the Puntland government had requested the U.S. navy to help fight the militants.

He said that the government knew the nationalities of five of the foreign militants: the U.S., Britain, Sweden, Eritrea, and Yemen. He said security forces identified them from their passports.

"We have successfully completed the operation against the terrorists who came here and we are chasing the other five," said Mohamoud, speaking from Puntland's capital, Garowe. He said the total number of militants was 13; government officials earlier reported as many as 35.

Muse Gelle, a regional governor, said the militants arrived in the area near the port town of Bargal by speedboat on Wednesday. He said a U.S. destroyer attacked late Friday.

Musa Ismail Mohamed, a former government economist who lives in Puntland, compared the area where the fighting took place to Afghanistan's Tora Bora, which U.S. forces beseiged in 2001 in a failed effort to flush out Osama bin Laden.

"Americans should strike it harder than yesterday and then they will succeed. If they do not do that, then may be Bargal may become a stronghold for terrorists," Mohamed said Saturday, speaking on the phone from Puntland's main port, Bossaso.

A task force of coalition ships, called CTF-150, is permanently based in the northern Indian Ocean and patrols the Somali coast in hopes of intercepting international terrorists. U.S. destroyers are normally assigned to the task force and patrol in pairs.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, could not confirm U.S. involvement in Friday's fighting, but added: "The very nature of some of our operations, as well as the success of those operations is often predicated on our ability to work quietly with our partners and allies."

Puntland's minister of information, Mohamed Abdulrahman Banga, told the AP that the extremists arrived heavily armed in two fishing boats from southern Somalia, which they controlled for six months last year before being routed by Ethiopian troops.

"They had their own small boats and guns," he said.

The United States has repeatedly accused Somalia's Council of Islamic Courts of harboring terrorists linked to al-Qaida and allegedly responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The U.S. sent a small number of special operations troops with the Ethiopian forces that drove the Islamic forces into hiding. U.S. warplanes have carried out at least two airstrikes in an attempt to kill suspected al-Qaida members, Pentagon officials have said.

Associated Press writer Salad Duhul in Mogadishu, Somalia, and Tom Maliti in Nairobi, Kenya contributed to this report.

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U.S. launches missile strike in Somalia

By Sahra Abdi Ahmed

Reuters, March 3, 2008

KISMAYU, Somalia (Reuters) - Two U.S. missiles hit a house in southern Somalia on Monday, according to local officials, in an attack Washington said was directed at "known terrorists".

It was the fourth U.S. strike in 14 months on Somalia, where Washington believes local Islamist insurgents are giving shelter to wanted al Qaeda figures.

"We launched a deliberate strike against a suspected bed-down of known terrorists," a senior U.S. official, who declined to be named, told Reuters in Washington.

Residents of Dobley, a remote Somali town 220 km (140 miles) from the southern port city of Kismayu on the Kenyan border, said they believed the missiles were targeting senior Islamist leaders meeting nearby.

Dobley district commissioner Ali Hussein Nur said six people were killed. A local politician, who had visited the scene and who asked not to be named, said only three were wounded.

The U.S. official said it was too early to know what damage had been inflicted, or whether there were any casualties. The official declined to give details on the type of weapon used.

The Somali politician said Sheikh Hassan Turki, a local militant cleric, and other leaders of a militant Islamist group from Mogadishu were meeting. The Islamists have been waging an insurgency against Somali government forces.


"The town is very tense. People have started fleeing because they fear there might be more attacks," he said.

A man in Kismayu, who said the house that was hit belonged to him, told Reuters in Kismayu his daughter was among the wounded and four of his cows had also been killed in the attack.

"We do not know whether the missiles were fired by the American AC-130 plane which is still flying over the city. All we know is they dropped from the sky," Mohamed Nurie Salad said.

He said he was returning to Dobley to assess the damage, which he had been told about over the telephone.

On January 8, 2007, a U.S. AC-130 gunship struck Islamists in southern Somalia in Washington's first overt military action there since pulling out of a U.N.-backed peacekeeping mission in 1994 after the "Black Hawk Down" incident.

That attack, and another with the same kind of airplane shortly thereafter, struck Islamists fleeing from Ethiopian and Somali troops who cornered them in southern Somalia during a two-week war to rout the militant movement.

On June 21, a U.S. Navy ship fired missiles at Islamist fighters and foreign jihadists hiding in the mountains in the northern Puntland region.

The United States accuses Somali Islamist insurgents of harbouring al Qaeda fugitives responsible for planning and executing the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

In Mogadishu, several civilians were killed by soldiers patrolling the Somali capital's main market on Monday.

"Four men were killed by stray bullets," Ali Mohamed, head of the Bakara market traders' committee, told Reuters. Witness Abdi Nur said he only saw two civilians dead.

In the southern town of Bur Hakaba, at least five people including the local police chief died in clashes between suspected Islamists and government forces, a resident said.

The Horn of Africa country has had no central government since a dictator was overthrown in 1991. An interim government formed in 2004 is struggling to assert its authority and is battling the Islamists in Mogadishu.

(Additional reporting by Aweys Yusuf, Abdi Sheikh and Mohamed Abdi in Mogadishu, Writing Guled Mohamed in Nairobi; Editing by Giles Elgood and Elizabeth Piper)

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Leader of al-Qaida in Somalia
reportedly dies in U.S. airstrike

By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN, Associated Press Writer
May 1, 2008

U.S. military killed a man believed to be the head of al-Qaida in Somalia and 10 others in an airstrike overnight, an Islamic insurgent group said Thursday.

The U.S. military confirmed an attack on a suspected al-Qaida target but did not identify the target.

Aden Hashi Ayro was killed when the airstrike struck his house in the central Somali town of Dusamareeb, about 300 miles north of Mogadishu, said Sheik Muqtar Robow, a spokesman for the Islamic al-Shabab militia.

Another commander and seven others were also killed, Robow said. Six more people were wounded, two of whom later died, said resident Abdullahi Nor.

"Our brother martyr Aden Hashi, has received what he was looking for — death for the sake of Allah — at the hands of the United States," Robow told The Associated Press by phone.

Capt. Jamie Graybeal, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, confirmed there was a U.S. airstrike early Thursday in the vicinity of Dusamareeb. Another U.S. military spokesman, Bob Prucha, said the attack was against a "known al-Qaida target and militia leader in Somalia." Both declined to provide further details.

But another U.S. defense official confirmed that the military launched a missile strike targeting Ayro at about 3 a.m. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

The attack comes just before U.N.-sponsored peace talks are due to begin in Djibouti on May 10.

Analysts say the strike is likely to harden extremists and make it more difficult to appeal to moderate elements in the Islamist movement, which contains many clan members, businessmen and members of the Somali Diaspora.

Iise Ali Geedi, an analyst at the Somali University, says the attacks will increase anti-American sentiment. The attack may also weaken the position of the prime minister, who wishes to bring more militant elements into the talks against the wishes of the president.

Over the past year, the U.S. military has attacked several suspected extremists in Somalia, most recently in March when the U.S. Navy fired at least one missile into a southern Somali town.

Somali government officials have said Ayro trained in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and is the head of al-Qaida's cell in Somalia.

He was a key figure in the al-Shabab movement, which aims to impose Islamic law and launches daily attacks on the shaky Somali government and their Ethiopian allies. Ayro also recently called for attacks on African peacekeepers in Somalia in a recording on an Islamic Web site.

Sheik Muhidin Mohamud Omar, who Robow described as "a top commander" in the Al-Shabab, was also killed in Thursday's attack.

"We heard a huge explosion and when we ran out of our house we saw a ball of smoke and flames coming out of the house where one of the leaders of al-Shabab Aden Hashi Ayro was staying," said local resident Nur Geele.

Another resident, Nur Farah, said, "the bodies were beyond recognition, some them cut into pieces, and those wounded have been severely burnt."

Al-Shabab is the armed wing of the Council of Islamic Courts movement. The State Department considers al-Shabab a terrorist organization.

The Council of Islamic Courts seized control of much of southern Somalia, including the capital, Mogadishu, in 2006. But troops loyal to the U.N.-backed interim Somali government and the allied Ethiopian army drove the group from power that December.

Ethiopia's archenemy, Eritrea, has offered assistance to the group, and it is re-emerging. In recent months it has briefly taken several towns, freeing prisoners and seizing weapons from government forces. The insurgents usually withdraw after a few hours but continue to target Ethiopian and Somali forces in an Iraq-style insurgency.

The United States has repeatedly accused the Islamic group of harboring international terrorists linked to al-Qaida, which is allegedly responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 200 people.

Over the past year, the U.S. military has attacked several suspected extremists in Somalia, most recently in March, when the U.S. Navy fired at least one missile into a southern town targeting Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan suspected in the embassy bombings.

America is concerned Somalia is a breeding ground for terrorist groups, particularly after the Islamic militants briefly gained control of the south and Osama bin Laden declared his support for them.

"As I have said before, we will pursue terrorists worldwide," Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said in Washington. "The U.S. is committed to identifying, locating, capturing and if necessary killing terrorist wherever they operate, train, plan their operations or seek safe harbor."

Fighting between government troops and the insurgents claimed thousands of lives last year and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Associated Press writers Pauline Jelinek in Washington and Jennifer N. Kay in Miami contributed to this report.

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U.S. confirms Somali missile strike
that killed at least eleven
Tehran Times
May 3, 2008

MOGADISHU (BBC) -- The U.S. military has confirmed that it carried out a pre-dawn missile strike which killed a senior leader of an Islamist militant group in Somalia.

A spokesman said the target of the attack in the town of Dusamareb was an al-Qaeda leader, but would not name him or say whether it had been successful.

The strike hit the home of Aden Hashi Ayro, the military head of al-Shabab, which controls much of Somalia.

At least 10 other people, including another al-Shabab leader, also died.

But local elders have said up to 30 bodies have been recovered from the scene, according to unconfirmed reports.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the U.S. Central Command confirmed it had attacked al-Qaeda militants in Somalia, but would not say whether it was an air strike nor name the intended target.

""It was an attack. If we say too much then we give away platforms and things that we use,"" CentCom spokesman Bob Prucha told the Associated Press.

""It was an attack against a known al-Qaeda target and militia leader in Somalia,"" he added, giving no further details.

An al-Shabab spokesman, Mukhtar Robow Adumansur, told the BBC that Ayro was killed along with another senior leader, Muhiyadin Muhammad Umar.

Considered a terrorist group by the U.S., al-Shabab began as the youth and military wing of the Somali Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which controlled much of southern and central Somalia in 2006.

When, at the end of that year, the UIC was driven from power by Ethiopian troops supporting the country's transitional government, al-Shabab melted away into remote and distant parts of the country.

It has since re-emerged as a radicalized group of young fighters, who have been conducting an insurgency against the government and its Ethiopian allies, and attacking African Union peacekeepers.

The U.S. has said al-Shabab is part of the al-Qaeda network, although analysts say it is impossible to accurately establish those links. Al-Shabab's leaders insist it is a purely Somali movement.

Ayro, its military commander, received training in Afghanistan in the 1990s and was an instrumental military figure as the UIC took control of Mogadishu.

The head of the BBC's Somali Service, Yusuf Garaad, says Ayro was considered by fellow militants as a soldier rather than a politician.

He never addressed a rally, was never seen at a public gathering and did not like to give interviews either, BBC correspondent says.

But his name came into the public domain few years ago when a group of Somali warlords cooperating with Western intelligence agencies stormed his house in the capital. Two men were kidnapped from the house, but Ayro escaped unhurt.

He also escaped a U.S. air strike near the southern port of Kismayo a year ago with only a minor injury.

The U.S. military is believed to have used a combination of human informants on the ground and precision-guided missiles fired from offshore in the Indian Ocean.

Locals said the missiles hit Ayro's home at about 0300 (0000 GMT).

""We heard a huge explosion and when we ran out of our house we saw balls of smoke and flames coming out of house,"" Dusamareb resident Nur Geele told the BBC.

The house that was attacked was a small concrete villa and it has been destroyed -- the sight is quite horrific

""The house was totally destroyed to the ground, also other houses nearby,"" local elder Ahmed Mumin Jama said.

Dr. Ahmed Mahdi at Dusamareb Hospital told the BBC he was treating eight civilians, including women and children, for burns and shrapnel wounds.

""The house that was attacked was a small concrete villa and it has been destroyed,"" he said. ""The adjacent houses which were made from traditional mud were also destroyed. The sight is quite horrific.""

One of the women has since died, bringing the death toll so far to 11.

An al-Shabab spokesman warned that there would now be revenge attacks.

""This incident will cause a lot problems to U.S. interests in the region and the governments who support the U.S., by that I mean its allies who are puppets,"" Mr Robow told the BBC, referring to Ethiopia which backs Somalia's interim government.

""I am letting the citizens of the U.S. and the allies know they are not going to be safe in this area.""

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