U.S. Launches New Airstrike in Somalia

By ROBERT BURNS
The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; 11:05 AM

WASHINGTON -- The United States launched an airstrike in Somalia against suspected terrorist targets _ the second such attack this month, defense officials said Wednesday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the action was carried out in secret, provided few details about the strike by an Air Force AC-130 gunship earlier this week and were uncertain whether the intended target was killed.

One official suggested that early indications showed that no high-value target was killed or captured.

At the Defense Department, spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to confirm any new strike but said in general that the United States is "going to go after al-Qaida in the global war on terrorism wherever it takes us."

He said the nature of some military operations, especially those by special operations commando forces, requires that they be kept secret in order to preserve an advantage in future missions.

Lt. Cmdr. Marc Boyd, a spokesman at U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, declined to comment.

Earlier this month, Ethiopian and U.S. forces were pursuing three top al-Qaida suspects but failed to capture or kill them in an AC-130 strike in the southern part of Somalia. A main target that time was Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, one of the three senior al-Qaida members blamed for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The latest operation came as Ethiopia began withdrawing troops that invaded Somalia last month to help Somalia's government drive out a radical Islamic militia officials say has been harboring al-Qaida operatives.

The U.S. Navy also has had additional forces in waters off the Somali coast, where they have monitored maritime traffic, boarded suspicious ships and interrogated crews in an attempt to catch anyone escaping the Somalia military operations.

Navy officials said Wednesday that no aircraft from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, stationed off the Somali coast, were involved in the latest strike.


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