Thursday, June 07, 2007

Somali News Update: US Navy Fires on Civilians; Islamists Claim No Casualties

US Navy fires on Somalia pirates

From correspondents in London
June 07, 2007 12:00

THE US navy said on Wednesday one of its warships fired warning shots at a Danish ship hijacked by pirates off Somalia last week, but was forced to abandon chase after it entered Somali waters.

The navy said the USS Carter Hall fired warning shots across the bow of the Danish-flagged Danica White captured by militia with five Danish crew aboard on Saturday.

“She fired several warning shots and fired disabling shots at three schiffs (small boats) in tow behind the White and pretty much destroyed the schiffs,” Lieutenant Denise Garcia, of the US navy's Fifth Fleet in the Gulf said.

The schiffs were used by the armed pirates to board the merchant vessel, Lt Garcia said.

There were no casualties.

Lt Garcia said the navy was forced to call off the pursuit after the pirates steamed into Somali territorial waters where it requires permission to operate.

The hijack is the latest in a spate of piracy attacks plaguing the waters off the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

On Monday a Kenyan maritime official said Somali pirates holding a Taiwan-flagged fishing vessel had killed one of its crew members because the ship's owners did not respond to a ransom demand.

Somalis say no casualties in US strikes

June 03, 2007 12:00

A SOMALI jihadist group said on Sunday it had suffered no casualties in what it called "random" American air strikes on mountain hideouts where Islamist fighters have battled local forces.

The group, calling itself the Young Mujahideen Movement, said it had killed 11 soldiers from the semi-autonomous Puntland administration in clashes following US missile attacks on Friday that CNN said were targeting an al Qaeda suspect.

"American planes carried out random attacks without causing any losses among the mujahideen, praise to God," the group said in a Web posting.

The statement could not be immediately verified but was on a site used by al Qaeda and other Islamists.

Speaking in Singapore, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates declined to comment on the strikes in rugged northern Somalia, saying it was possibly an operation still in progress.

CNN quoted unnamed sources as saying the attacks were the second in six months aimed at a suspect in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 240 people.

Puntland residents said violence broke out after a group of Islamists, including foreign fighters, landed by boat in the area on Wednesday before exchanging fire with local police.

After the air strikes, local forces riding in trucks fitted with heavy guns blocked roads into the mountains and stopped journalists from going to the scene.

The United States also launched air strikes in southern Somalia in January aimed at three top al Qaeda suspects but killed their allies instead, US officials have said.

They were believed to be in a group of Islamists who fled the capital Mogadishu in January after being routed by the Somali interim government and its Ethiopian military allies.

Washington says six al Qaeda operatives or associates are in Somalia, including alleged embassy bomber Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, and Abu Talha al-Sudani, accused of orchestrating the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya that killed 15.

Others include Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, hardline leader of the ousted Somali Islamic Courts Council (SICC), and Adan Hashi Ayro, head of the SICC's feared military wing, the Shabaab.

SICC remnants have been blamed for a wave of guerrilla attacks mostly targeting Ethiopian troops in the capital.

In the latest, local media said one person was killed and two others injured on Sunday when Ethiopian soldiers opened fire after their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb.

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