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Somali Capital Awash in Anger At Ethiopia, U.S., Interim Leaders

A Somali student is taken to a hospital after being wounded during an attack Tuesday night in the capital, Mogadishu.
A Somali student is taken to a hospital after being wounded during an attack Tuesday night in the capital, Mogadishu. (By Mohamed Sheikh Nor -- Associated Press)

Haji and others remained concerned, however, that new U.S. airstrikes would further agitate the city.

The Pentagon and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi denied Wednesday that U.S. warplanes had conducted additional attacks after the one Monday. But a Somali government official said airstrikes -- whether American or Ethiopian -- were "ongoing." An air attack is "going on today, and probably it may go on tomorrow," Abdirizak Hassan, chief of staff to the Somali premier, said Wednesday.

Two witnesses in Kismaayo, a port city about 60 miles from the area hit Monday, said they saw two military aircraft overhead about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Hassan told The Washington Post that U.S. military officials had reported to him that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, considered the chief organizer of the embassy bombings, was killed in the airstrike Monday. U.S. officials have cautioned against reports that Fazul was among the targets or was killed and said the main target was another al-Qaeda figure, Abu Talha al-Sudani.

In New York on Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council began debating the conflict. In a closed session, Ibrahim Gambari, the United Nations' undersecretary for political affairs, urged the interim government to begin talks with clan leaders, clerics and moderate elements of the Islamic Courts movement, saying the deployment of a peacekeeping force would be "problematic" without a political settlement in place, according to a copy of his statement.

He noted a pledge by Uganda to provide 1,000 troops for an East African peacekeeping mission and said Malawi, Nigeria and South Africa are considering participation.

Several envoys expressed concern that U.S. airstrikes could undercut international efforts to calm Somalia. But diplomats from China, Qatar and other countries suggested the United States may have a legal basis for intervention: a request for help from Somalia's interim leadership.

Away from the United Nations, diplomats from France, Italy, Egypt, the Arab League and African Union have criticized the U.S. air operation, saying it will destabilize Somalia further.

Staff writers Karen DeYoung in Washington, Colum Lynch in New York and special correspondent Mohamed Ibrahim in Mogadishu contributed to this report.

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