U.S. launches missile strike in Somalia
Monday, March 3, 2008; 12:11 PM
KISMAYU, Somalia (Reuters) - Two missiles hit a house in southern Somalia on Monday, in an attack the United States said was directed at "a known al Qaeda terrorist."
It was the fourth U.S. strike in 14 months on Somalia, where Washington believes Islamists are giving shelter to wanted al Qaeda figures.
"This attack was against a known al Qaeda terrorist," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in Washington.
"As we have repeatedly said, we will continue to pursue terrorist activities and their operations wherever we may find them," he said, declining to provide details of the operation.
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.
A militant Islamist organization, the Mujahideen Youth Group, said in a posting on a Web site often used by al Qaeda and its supporters that the U.S. attack had "failed to hit leaders" of the group.
A senior U.S. official said it was too early to know what damage had been inflicted, or whether there were any casualties.
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 his daughter was among the wounded and four of his cows had also been killed in the attack.