/ 4 March 2008

Somalis protest after United States missile attack

Hundreds of residents of a remote town in southern Somalia staged an anti-American demonstration on Tuesday after the United States launched an air strike against ”a known al-Qaeda terrorist” there.

The town of Dobley was hit by two missiles on Monday in the fourth US strike in 14 months against Somalia, where Washington says local Islamists are sheltering wanted al-Qaeda leaders.

Demonstrators in Dobley, a small town on the Somali-Kenyan border, chanted anti-American slogans, a local official said.

The district commissioner, Ali Hussein Nur, said the protesters were angry at the US attack.

”Since the American government admitted bombing our town, where people and livestock were killed and properties damaged, it must pay compensation,” Nur told Reuters by telephone.

The exact toll from Monday’s attack was unclear. Nur said on Monday that six people were killed, but a local politician said only three were wounded.

Residents of Dobley said they believed the missiles were targeting senior Islamist leaders meeting nearby.

In Washington, a Pentagon spokesperson said on Monday the attack was against ”a known al-Qaeda terrorist”.

White House spokesperson Gordon Johndroe told reporters the United States would pursue al-Qaeda operatives wherever it found them.

”They are plotting and planning all over the world to destabilise the world, to inflict terror, and where we find them, we are going to go after them,” he said on Monday.

In Mogadishu, two of the Somali capital’s independent FM radios, Shabelle and Horn Afrik, were back on air after security forces raided their premises, their directors said.

Shabelle, Horn Afrik and Simba radios were forced to shut down on Sunday when troops seized computers and radio equipment, accusing them of siding with suspected insurgent activities.

Shabelle, which resumed broadcasting on Tuesday, said government officers called its acting director to report to the national security department to collect its equipment.

Horn Afrik deputy director Said Tahlil said his station was back on air on Monday. Simba said it was still off-air, waiting for the government to hand over its broadcasting equipment.

In a separate incident, the bodies of two young women were dumped near a hospital in north Mogadishu, where suspected Islamist-led insurgents and Ethiopian troops clashed on Monday.

”Two dead women were lying behind the SOS hospital. They had bullet wounds on their faces,” said Abdi Farah, who saw them.

He said insurgents killed the women after they left a former pasta plant which is now an Ethiopian military base. – Reuters