Air strikes against Al Qaeda and Islamists were the 'right thing to do'

MOGADISHU - Somalia's interim President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed said yesterday that US air strikes against suspected Al Qaeda hideouts were "the right thing" to do in the global war on terrorism.

MOGADISHU - Somalia's interim President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed said yesterday that US air strikes against suspected Al Qaeda hideouts were "the right thing" to do in the global war on terrorism.

"The Americans had a right to carry out the air strikes on some Al Qaeda members," Ahmed said at a news conference in Mogadishu after a US military gunship attacked several positions in southern Somalia on Monday.

"Those who carried out attacks on the US embassy in Kenya and Tanzania were there, so it was the right thing and the right time to carry out such strikes," Ahmed said.

"The Americans are cracking down on Al Qaeda terrorists all over the world and this was part of it," he said.

He was speaking a day after returning to Mogadishu after the ousting of powerful Islamists by Somali and Ethiopian troops last month.

Somali government officials said earlier that "many people had died" in the strikes that US television reported were aimed at several Al Qaeda suspects that the Islamist movement is believed to be harbouring.

Somali officials could not identify the victims, but said targets were a senior Al Qaeda leader in east Africa and an operative wanted in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said: "A lot of people were killed. So many dead people were lying in the area that we do not know who is who, but the raid was a success."

Information Minister Ali Jama said the attacks hit more than one target near Somalia's border with Kenya in areas where the Islamists and suspected Al Qaeda members had fled after being dislodged by Ethiopian and Somali troops.

"The information we have is that a few other places were hit near the Kenyan borders," Jama said. - Sapa-AFP

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