Action reported by helicopter gunship in southern tip of country
A U.S. helicopter gunship conducted a strike against two suspected al-Qaida operatives in southern Somalia, but it was not known whether the mission was successful, CBS News reported on Monday.
The U.S. Air Force helicopter, operated by the Special Operations Command, flew from its base in Djibouti to the southern tip of Somalia, where the al-Qaida suspects were believed to have fled from the capital, Mogadishu, the network reported.
Fox News is reporting 4:25 PM PST the air strikes in Somalia and confirming the air strikes by an AC-130 Gunship.
There are casualties on the ground.
No report of whether the mission was successful.
CBS News: U.S. Strikes Al Qaeda In Somalia
CBS News Learns Strike Was Aimed At Alleged Al Qaeda Members Linked to 1998 Embassy Bombings
A U.S. Air Force gunship has conducted a strike against suspected members of al Qaeda in Somalia, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports exclusively.
The targets included the senior al Qaeda leader in East Africa and an al Qaeda operative wanted for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa, Martin reports. Those terror attacks killed more than 200 people.
The AC-130 gunship is capable of firing thousands of rounds per second, and sources say a lot of bodies were seen on the ground after the strike, but there is as yet, no confirmation of the identities.
The gunship flew from its base in Dijibouti down to the southern tip of Somalia, Martin reports, where the al Qaeda operatives had fled after being chased out of the capital of Mogadishu by Ethiopian troops backed by the United States.
Once they started moving, the al Qaeda operatives became easier to track, and the U.S. military started preparing for an air strike, using unmanned aerial drones to keep them under surveillance and moving the aircraft carrier Eisenhower out of the Persian Gulf toward Somalia. But when the order was given, the mission was assigned to the AC-130 gunship operated by the U.S. Special Operations command.
If the attack got the operatives it was aimed at, reports Martin, it would deal a major blow to al Qaeda in East Africa.
A U.S. gunship has attacked suspected al Qaeda targets in southern Somalia, a senior Pentagon official said Monday.
The AC-130 flew its mission within the last 24 hours, the official told CNN. The operation was launched based on intelligence that al Qaeda operatives were in the location, but there was no immediate indication of how successful the strike had been.
Additionally, the official said, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has moved within striking distance of Somalia, but its jets have not been put to use.
Three al Qaeda operatives accused in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania have been hiding in Somalia for years. The US believes they were closely tied to the Somali Islamic group – the ICU.
“We had seen intelligence evidence these three Al Qaeda operative were very much influencing the leadership of the council of the ICU — for example providing logistics, fuel and arms to the militias,” said Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs
U.S. officials in East Africa said earlier this week that al Qaeda operatives were developing the ability to attack U.S. targets just as they did when the embassy bombings killed hundreds.
Intelligence shows Al Qaeda stepped up its operations in Somalia in June after an Islamic militia took power.
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