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US Diplomat Says Key al-Qaida Figure Not Killed in US Air Strike in Somalia

The U.S. ambassador to Kenya says an American air strike in southern Somalia earlier this week did not kill an al-Qaida leader accused of planning the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

Ambassador Michael Ranneberger denied U.S. media reports that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was among those killed in Monday's raid, which targeted an al-Qaida hideout in a Somali village.

Somali officials have said many people were killed in the U.S. air strike. But it is not clear how many or whether the dead include key al-Qaida operatives.

Reports from Nairobi say Kenyan authorities detained the wives of two al-Qaida figures as they fled into Kenya from the southern Somali town of Ras Kamboni. Those reports say one woman is married to Mohammed and the other is married to another suspect in the 1998 embassy bombings, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.

Ethiopia continued air attacks in southern Somalia Tuesday and Wednesday, in pursuit of fleeing Islamist fighters. U.S. officials have not confirmed if American warplanes were involved in those raids.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.