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US Airstrike in Somalia Targets al-Qaida Suspect


In Somalia, several dozen residents of Dobley town, near the Kenyan border, are reportedly trying to cross into Kenya following a U.S. military air strike that was aimed at terror suspects in the area. VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu has details from our East Africa Bureau in Nairobi.

Eyewitness Abdi Mohamed Ali tells VOA that the residents of Dobley, about six kilometers from the Kenyan border, were shaken from their beds early Monday by a huge explosion that flattened a house in the middle of town.

Ali says he does not know who was in the house or who carried out the attack, but he says residents believe it was a bomb dropped by a plane, seen flying over the town in recent days. He says many people are leaving Dobley for fear of another air strike.

In Washington, U.S. officials have confirmed that two missiles were launched at targets in Dobley. They say the targets were known Islamic terrorists, but have declined to give further details.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse news agency, local Somali elders and a senior leader of the al-Qaida-linked Somali al-Shabaab group, Muktar Robow, claimed a U.S. Air Force AC-130 plane, hunting for Islamic militant hideouts, bombed three targets, including two houses.

VOA was not able to verify a local elder's statement that four civilians were killed in the attack.

The radical Shabaab group, which had largely self-dissolved following Ethiopia's December, 2006 military campaign to remove Somali Islamists from power, is believed to have reconstituted its fighting force during the past year. It has fully adopted Iraq-style guerrilla tactics to lead a bloody, year-long insurgency in Mogadishu and in other parts of the country against Ethiopian forces, the transitional government, and African Union peacekeepers.

The Shabaab functioned as the militant wing of the ousted Islamic Courts Union, whose top leaders are in exile in Eritrea. But in early February, the Shabaab broke off ties with the courts, complaining that its leadership was not committed to establishing Islamic rule throughout the world through jihad.

Late last month, a skirmish between supporters of the Islamic Courts Union and Shabaab fighters reportedly killed several people in Dobley before the town was seized by forces loyal to Hassan Turki, a Shabaab leader in the Lower Juba area.