By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Jan. 9, 2007 – U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunships struck al Qaeda targets in Somalia yesterday, news sources reported last night. The operation allegedly hit al Qaeda concentrations in the southern part of the country, but Pentagon officials did not comment.
The U.S. 5th Fleet moved the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower into the waters off Somalia in an effort to capture al Qaeda terrorists attempting to flee the country, a 5th Fleet spokesman said.
United Nations-recognized Somali government officials said the strikes were aimed at al Qaeda terrorists who planned the attacks against the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
The Ethiopian military entered Somalia Dec. 24 with the mission of neutralizing the Council of Islamic Courts, a Muslim extremist group that took power in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. The Ethiopian forces took the capital in 10 days and terrorists and their sympathizers allegedly moved south toward the border with Kenya to escape.
More U.S. ships are moving in to the waters off Somalia to reinforce the maritime interdiction effort there, said U.S. 5th Fleet officials. "Due to rapidly developing events in Somalia, U.S. Central Command has tasked USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to join USS Bunker Hill, USS Ramage, USS Anzio and USS Ashland to support ongoing maritime security operations off the coast of Somalia," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown, a spokesman for 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
The ships will stop vessels and search them for al Qaeda terrorists attempting to escape from Somalia, officials said.
Press reports said the AC-130 attacks hit an area called Ras Kamboni, a heavily forested area near the Kenyan border. The area is allegedly a terror training base. Press reports said there were casualties in the area, and Somali officials said they had captured 28 suspected al Qaeda terrorists.
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