[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): Air strike hits rebel-held Somali village-residents

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2011 13:59:46 +0100

Air strike hits rebel-held Somali village-residents

Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:28pm GMT

* Residents say several civilians killed

* Somali military, al Shabaab confirm strike

MOGADISHU Dec 20 (Reuters) - A warplane bombed a Somali village held by
Islamist rebels near the border with Kenya on Tuesday, killing several
civilians, residents and a Somali military official said.

It was not immediately possible to identify who carried out the attack in
the village of Hosungow near the area of Dhobley, which is under the control
of Somali government and Kenyan troops as well as a militia allied to
Somalia's government.

But neighbouring Kenya, which sent troops across the border into Somalia to
crush the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants, has intensified its air
strikes in recent weeks since the ground-and-air offensive began in October.

"The jet first dropped bombs in the suburbs of the village ... but then
returned in the afternoon, dropping bombs in the village's centre. Parts of
the village, especially shops, are now burning," Hosungow resident Mohamed
Gelle told Reuters.

Another resident, Bakar Hussein, described a similar sequence of events
saying a jet first bombed the suburb then later returned to strike the
village centre.

The residents gave different numbers for those dead, saying between 12 and
14 civilians had been killed.

"Casualties were taken to their homes since there are no hospitals," Hussein

A Kenyan military spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The spokesman for Somalia's government forces in Dhobley confirmed an air
strike took place not far from the militant-controlled Hosungow.

"The target was a military base and training camp for al Shabaab. We do not
know the loss but there was big damage," Mahmud Farah told Reuters.

Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab said a jet had targeted the
group in the village but denied suffering any casualties and said nine
civilians had been killed.

Kenyan troops crossed into Somalia in October after a wave of kidnappings
and cross-border raids it blamed on the rebels who control large swathes of
southern and central Somalia.

Its forces initially advanced smoothly on militant towns in Somalia's
southern border regions but have since become bogged down by heavy rains and
a lack of clear strategy.

The militants have adopted a strategy of melting into the population from
where they can launch hit-and-run attacks on Kenyans, rather than confront
the army head on.

Kenya wants its forces in Somalia to be integrated into the African Union
AMISOM force that has peacekeepers in Mogadishu. On Tuesday, the first of a
900-strong Djiboutian force arrived to augment the African peacekeeping

(Reportingby Mohamed Ahmed and Feisal Omar in Mogadishu; Sahra Abdi in
Nairobi; Writing by Yara Bayoumy)

C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved


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