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'Foreign military forces' attack Somali Islamist base

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-05

Foreign military forces attacked "high-profile" targets in Somalia just before dawn on Saturday, according to Somali officials. The targets were in the southern town of Barawe, a coastal base of the Islamist group al Shabaab.

Foreign military forces carried out a pre-dawn raid on a southern Somali village on Saturday aimed at taking down “high-profile” targets, officials said.

The operation took place in the coastal town of Barawe – 180 kilometres south of the capital Mogadishu – before the start of morning prayers. The assault appeared to target a two-storey house on the beach, which was believed to be used by the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, according to reports. A Somali intelligence official said that there were “high-profile” foreigners in the house.

The raid came exactly two weeks after al Shabaab militants attacked Nairobi’s Westgate mall in neighbouring Kenya. At least 67 people were killed in the four-day siege. Al Shabaab’s leader Ahmed Godane, also known as Mukhtar Abu al-Zubayr, said the mall attack was in retaliation for Kenya’s incursion in October 2011 into southern Somalia to crush the insurgents.

Somalia’s nascent army does not have the ability to carry out a stealth night-time strike. A second intelligence official also confirmed the attack. Both insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Foreign militaries – often the US but not always – have carried out several strikes inside Somalia in recent years against al Shabaab or al Qaeda leaders, as well as criminal kidnappers.

In September 2009 a daylight commando raid carried out by Navy SEALs in Barawe killed six people, including Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, one of the most-wanted al Qaeda operatives in the region and an alleged plotter in the 1998 bombings at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 250 people.

Military raids carried out by troops on the ground carry the risk of a troops being killed or captured, but they also allow the forces to collect bodies or other material as evidence. Missile strikes from sea of unmanned drones carry less risk to troops but increase the chances of accidental civilian deaths.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-10-05

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