Somalia: Mystery air strike hits Al Shabaab territory


Anti-war protesters displays an effigy of an attack drone as they take part in a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on Mar. 19, 2011.


Jewel Samad

NAIROBI, Kenya — At least four people were killed when missiles hit a convoy of vehicles outside the Somali capital in the early hours of Friday. The air strike at an area called K60, 37 miles (60kms) outside Mogadishu and deep in Al Shabaab-held territory, is said to have killed at least four militants, among them foreign fighters.

The BBC reported that the explosion was unusually large and could be heard nearly 100 miles away.

The air strike is the latest to target Al Shabaab militants who earlier this month declared their formal allegiance to Al Qaeda. In January a British-Lebanese commander was killed in a similar attack.

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It is unclear who was responsible for Friday's killing.

Ethiopian troops in the west and Kenyan troops in the south both have fighter jets but residents have not reported seeing or hearing any aircraft prior to the explosion. The US has a drone base in neighboring Ethiopia and is known to have carried out numerous drone strikes in Somalia, which it denies. European naval forces off the coast of Somalia are also capable of launching missile attacks on the mainland.

Before and during a conference on Somalia in London yesterday there was much talk of missile strikes. Somalia's PM called for targeted missile attacks on Al Shabaab militants and camps while Britain said such attacks were under consideration. For its part the US said it wouldn't be carrying out air strikes.

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Speaking in London yesterday Hillary Clinton said:

"I am not a military strategist, but I think I know enough to say air strikes would not be a good idea and we have absolutely no reason to believe anyone, certainly not the United States, is considering that."

The recent history of (denied) US drone strikes shows Clinton's statement to be disingenuous, and today's strike proves it wrong.

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