Monday, September 14, 2009

Wire: US Troops Raid Somali Town Controlled by Islamist Insurgents

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2009 -- Newswire services today reported that troops in helicopters strafed a car Monday in a Somali town controlled by Islamist insurgents, killing two men and capturing two others who were wounded, witnesses said. U.S. military officials said American forces were involved in the raid.

The Associated Press reported that the commando-style action took place in a village near Barawe amid growing fears that al-Qaida is gaining a foothold in this lawless nation.

Two U.S. military officials said forces from the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command were involved. The officials gave no details about the raid or its target, and they spoke on condition of anonymity because the operation was secret, AP said.

AP noted the following details:
Many experts fear Somalia is becoming a haven for al-Qaida, a place for terrorists to train and gather strength — much like Afghanistan in the 1990s. The U.N.-backed government, with support from African Union peacekeepers, holds only a few blocks of Mogadishu, the war-ravaged capital.

Last year, U.S. missiles killed reputed al-Qaida commander Aden Hashi Ayro -- the first major success after a string of U.S. military attacks in 2008.

Like much of Somalia, Barawe and its surrounding villages are controlled by the militant group al-Shabab, which the U.S. accuses of having ties to al-Qaida. Al-Shabab, which has foreign fighters in its ranks, seeks to overthrow the government and impose a strict form of Islam in Somalia.

Witness Abdi Ahmed said six helicopters buzzed the village before two of the aircraft opened fire. After the helicopters fired, soldiers in military fatigues got out and left with the two wounded men.
Somalia's lawlessness also has allowed piracy to flourish off its coast, making the Gulf of Aden one of the most dangerous waterways in the world, AP noted.

(Report from newswire sources.)

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