Somali elders say four civilians
killed in US air raid near Kenya/Somalia border
03. March 2008
MOGADISHU/Nairobi (AFP) - An Islamist-held town in Somalia came
under attack Monday from what local elders identified as a US Air
Force AC-130 gunship, leaving at least four civilians dead.
Elder Abdullahi Sheikh Duale said the raid occurred in the early
hours of Monday morning, and appeared to have focused on three
particular targets in the Dhoble town near the Kenya-Somali border.
"Four civilians were killed," said Duale.
There was no immediate US confirmation of the operation.
Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, a spokesman for the Islamist movement which
is leading an insurgency against the Somali government, confirmed
"The Americans bombed the town and hit civilians targets thinking
that they were Islamist hideouts. They used an AC-130 plane,"
Robow told AFP.
The AC-130 is a fearsome gunship bristling with side-mounted
cannons that can saturate an area with devastating fire or strike
targets with surgical precision.
The modified C-130 aircraft are used by air force special
operations forces for close air support missions, strikes on
select targets and to protect US forces in the field.
Carrying a crew of 13, it flies low and operates at night for
concealment and surprise.
If confirmed, this would be at least the third time the US
military has conducted operations inside Somalia since the start
In June last year, a US Navy destroyer shelled suspected Al-Qaeda
targets in mountainous and remote areas in northeastern Somalia
where Islamist militants were believed to have bases.
Earlier the same year a US gunship bombed insurgent positions in
southern Somalia, coming to the aid of the Somali government
forces which had ousted the Islamists from most of the country's
southern and central regions.
US officials said the previous attacks were aimed at "high-value"
Al-Qaeda militants -- among them Comoran Fazul Abdullah Mohammed
and Kenyan Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, blamed for the 1998 bombings of
US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.
US Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain, which oversees the
Djibouti military base, referred calls to the US Department of
Defense in Washington.
Since the Islamists were ousted from power in early 2007, they
have been carrying out attacks against government officials,
Ethiopian forces -- who are backing the Somali government -- and
African Union peacekeepers.
Somalia has never really recovered since the 1991 ouster of
dictator Mohamed Siad Barre plunged the Horn of Africa nation into
widespread clan fighting.