The UN has warned that US involvement in the conflict in Somalia is likely to destabilise the country even further. It follows a series of air strikes by heavily-armed AC-130 gunships based at the US base in Djibouti. The Pentagon would not say if the raids had been successful in flushing out al Qaeda militants. However, Somali officials confirmed that many people had been killed.
Three towns near the country’s southern border with Kenya have been targeted. A naval taskforce, including the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower, is blocking any escape by sea. Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has given his backing to the action, which, the Pentagon claims, targets fugitive al-Qaeda suspects linked to the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa. Some 224 people died in those attacks.
Italy, the former colonial power in Somalia, has condemned the strikes. Meanwhile, EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana has suggested UN troops should be sent to the area to boost African Union peacekeepers when they are deployed.