From several sources it appears that there are at least two ongoing operations. There are many casualties and this Guardian report has as much information as is available at this time. As of this writing, Nancy Pelosi has yet to call for halting funding or an investigation. She may not be up yet. More following:
US launches air strike on Somali village
Staff and agencies
Tuesday January 9, 2007
A US air strike on a Somali village, thought to be the hideout of an al-Qaida cell, has left "many dead", reports said today.
The attack yesterday, by a heavily armed gunship, allegedly targeted Islamists wanted for the 1998 bombings of US embassies in other African countries.
The suspects were spotted hiding on the remote Badmadow island on the southern tip of Somalia, close to the Kenyan border. The area of the island that was attacked is known as Ras Kamboni and is suspected of being a terror training base.
"I understand there are so many dead bodies and animals in the village," a senior Somalian government official told Reuters.
It was the first overt military action by the US in Somalia since the 1990s.
"The US were trying to kill the al-Qaida terrorists who carried out the bomb attacks on their embassies in Kenya and Tanzania," Somalia's deputy prime minister, Hussein Aideed, said. "They have our full support for the attacks."
The government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said the strike was carried out after al-Qaida members were confirmed to be hiding in the area.
"We don't know how many people were killed in the attack but we understand there were a lot of casualties," he said. "Most were Islamic fighters."
Witnesses said at least four civilians were killed in the attack, including a small boy.
"My four-year-old boy was killed in the strike," Mohamed Mahmud Burale said. "The plane was firing at other areas in Ras Kamboni. We could see smoke from the area. We also heard 14 massive explosions."
The air strike comes 16 days after Ethiopian forces entered Somalia to back pro-government troops in driving out an Islamist movement that had taken over control of much of the country from the weak transitional administration.
The US and Ethiopia both accuse the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC) of harbouring extremists, including al-Qaida suspects.
Ethiopian troops, tanks and warplanes, as well as Somalian troops, took just 10 days to drive the SCIC from the capital, Mogadishu, and other key towns. After two days of fighting, Ethiopian and Somali forces have said they are close to capturing Ras Kamboni, where they say the SCIC is cornered.
Meanwhile, the US military said today it had sent an aircraft carrier to join three other US warships conducting anti-terror operations off the Somali coast.
The operation is aimed at capturing al-Qaida members thought to be fleeing Somalia by sea after Ethiopia's December 24 invasion.
US officials said after the September 11 2001 attacks that extremists with ties to al-Qaida operated a training camp at Ras Kamboni and al-Qaida members are believed to have visited it.
The alleged mastermind of the embassy bombings in east Africa, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, escaped to Ras Kamboni, according to testimony from one of the convicted bombers. Mr Mohammed is believed to be the leader of the al-Qaida east Africa cell.
Leaders of the SCIC have vowed from their hideouts to launch an Iraq-style guerrilla war in Somalia, and al-Qaida's second-in-command has called on militants to carry out suicide attacks on Ethiopian troops.
Yesterday, Somalia's interim president, Abdullahi Yusuf, entered Mogadishu for the first time since his election.
Somalia has not had an effective central government since clan-based warlords toppled the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other, sinking the nation of 7 million people into chaos.
At least 13 attempts at government have failed since then. The current government was established in 2004 with the backing of the United Nations.
Many people in predominantly Muslim Somalia resent the presence of troops from neighbouring Ethiopia, which has a large Christian population and has fought two wars with Somalia, most recently in 1977.
The European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said he told the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, yesterday that a UN peacekeeping force could be needed to guarantee security and stability in Somalia. He said Ugandan forces could be the first deployed to replace Ethiopian troops.