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How has the world reacted to the US strike?

Last Monday night, the US Air Force launched an air strike against Islamist fighters in southern Somalia. An AC-130 was used to eliminate the three suspects believed to be involved in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dares Salaam.

This is the first overt US military operation in Somalia, although, Somalia had been at the centre of invisible war - mainly covert operations such as snatching operations. In July 2005, a report published by the International Crisis Group noted, "… away from the spotlight, a quiet, dirty conflict is being waged in Somalia: in the rubble-strewn streets of the ruined capital of this state without a government, Mogadishu, al-Qaeda operatives, jihadi extremists, Ethiopian security services and Western-backed counter-terrorism networks are engaged in a shadowy and complex contest waged by intimidation, abduction and assassination."

After Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia, this country has become the new front in America's war on terror. The aerial bombing took place in an area near the Kenyan border and it is too early to know the exact number of people killed or wounded and whether the targeted suspects were liquidated. However, a high number of casualties were reported. A senior Somali government official told the Reuters news agency: "There are so many dead bodies and animals in the village."

So, how has the world reacted to the US strike?

The Somali president, Abdullahi Yusuf, told a group of journalists: "I don't know that air strike was in two places or not, but if it's confirmed, I agree with the Americans to target those who were behind the bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa." Hussein Aideed, Somalia's deputy prime minister, explained the US strike: "the US was trying to kill the al-Qaida terrorists who carried out the bomb attacks on their embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

They have our full support for the attacks." Somali Information Minister Ali Ahmed Jama gave this reaction: "The Islamists are hiding in the thick jungle and it's only air strikes that eliminate them from there. The strikes ...will continue until no terrorist survives."Amadeu Altafaj Tardio, a European commission spokesman, disapproved the air strike: "Any incident of this kind is not helpful in the long term."

Michele Montas, a spokesman of the UN Secretary-General, expressed concern over the consequence of the US action: "The Secretary is concerned about the new dimension this kind of action could introduce to the conflict and the possible escalation of hostilities that may result."

Matt Bryden, a consultant to the International Crisis Group, taunted: "If no foreigners died, this will just be the latest element in a comedy of errors by the US and a step towards the new Iraq of Africa."

Bob Baer, a former CIA agent, made this analysis: "It's akin to the heart of darkness, just shooting into the jungle. At the end of the day you are just making more enemies."Simon Tisdall of the Guardian wrote: "The US air strikes in Somalia could hinder rather than help efforts to resolve the country's internal crisis."

Richard Cornwell of the Institute for Security Studies in Johannesburg saw it as: "The AC130 is an appallingly blunt instrument and I very much doubt it can be used to target individuals. To kill alleged terrorists regardless of collateral damage is highly hypocritical."

Mohamed Mukhtar London
Email: mohamed323@hotmail.com

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