U.S. Navy airstrike hits Somali town
The U.S. Navy fired at least one missile into a southern Somali town before dawn Monday, targeting a terrorism suspect as an Islamic group...
The Associated Press
MOGADISHU, Somalia — The U.S. Navy fired at least one missile into a southern Somali town before dawn Monday, targeting a terrorism suspect as an Islamic group with links to al-Qaida appears to be gathering sway again in this lawless African nation.
Residents and police in Dobley said at least eight people, including four children, were seriously injured when a home was destroyed. The attack was confirmed by U.S. officials, who said only that the target was a "known al-Qaida terrorist."
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to provide any details, including the target's identity, the fate of the targeted individual or reports of any other casualties.
Another defense official said the strike used one or more Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from a U.S. submarine off Somalia's coast.
The U.S. military has staged several attacks on suspected extremists in Somalia over the past year amid fears the Horn of Africa country could become a haven for terrorists.
A radical Islamic movement that ruled much of southern Somalia in 2006 took over Dobley last week, led by senior official Hassan Turki. Turki, who is rarely seen in public, is on U.S. and U.N. lists of suspected terrorists for alleged ties to al-Qaida. His fate after the strike was not known.
The Islamic movement, the Council of Islamic Courts, seized control of much of southern Somalia, including the capital, Mogadishu, in 2006. But in early 2007, troops loyal to the U.N.-backed interim Somali government and the allied Ethiopian army defeated the Islamic group.
The Islamic council now appears to be re-emerging.
On Monday, fighters linked to the group overran Bur Haqaba, a hilltop town about 35 miles from the provincial capital of Baidoa in the south. The group released prisoners from jail and killed a police chief before retreating, witnesses said.
Last month, Islamic fighters briefly took over Dinsor in southern Somalia, killing nine soldiers, police said.
The United States has repeatedly accused the Islamic group of harboring international 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 to help the Ethiopian force that drove the Islamic movement into hiding, and a Navy warship shelled suspected al-Qaida targets. U.S. warplanes staged at least two airstrikes in January 2007 in an attempt to kill suspected al-Qaida members, Pentagon officials have said.
The U.S. Navy still patrols Somalia's 1,880-mile coast.
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