Military strike reported in southern Somali town

Updated 13 November 2013
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Military strike reported in southern Somali town

MOGADISHU, Somalia: Foreign military forces carried out a pre-dawn strike Saturday against foreign fighters in the same southern Somalia village where US Navy SEALS four years ago killed a most-wanted Al-Qaeda operative, officials said.
The strike was carried out in the town of Barawe in the hours before morning prayers against what one official said were “high-profile” targets. The strike comes exactly two weeks after Al-Shabab militants attacked Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, a four-day terrorist assault that killed at least 67 people in neighboring Kenya.
The leader of Al-Shabab, Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, also known as Ahmed Godane, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was in retaliation for Kenya’s military deployment inside Somalia.
A resident of Barawe — a seaside town 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Mogadishu — said by telephone that heavy gunfire woke up residents before dawn prayers. An Al-Shabab fighter who gave his name as Abu Mohamed said “foreign” soldiers attacked a house, prompting militants to rush to the scene to capture a foreign soldier. Mohamed said that effort was not successful.
The foreign troops attacked a two-story house close to the beach in Barawe, battling their way inside, said Mohamed, who said he had visited the scene of the attack. Foreign fighters resided in the house, Mohamed said. Al-Shabab has a formal alliance with Al-Qaeda, and hundreds of foreign fighters from the US, Britain and Middle Eastern countries are known to fight alongside Somali members of Al-Shabab.
A Somalia intelligence official said the targets of the raid were “high-profile” foreigners in the house. The intelligence official also said the strike was carried out by a foreign military. Somalia’s nascent army does not have the ability to carry out a stealth night-time strike. A second intelligence official also confirmed the attack. Both insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
Foreign militaries — often the US but not always — have carried out several strikes inside Somalia in recent years against Al-Shabab or Al-Qaeda leaders, as well as criminal kidnappers. A Western intelligence official said it appeared likely that either US or French forces carried out the attack. The official insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman George Little said: “I decline comment.”
Another resident of Barawe, who gave his name as Mohamed Bile, said militants in Barawe closed down the town in the hours after the assault, and that all traffic and movements have been restricted. Militants were carrying out house-to-house searches, likely to find evidence that a spy had given intelligence to a foreign power used to launch the attack, he said.
“We woke up to find Al-Shabab fighters had sealed off the area and their hospital is also inaccessible,” Bile told The Associated Press by phone. “The town is in a tense mood.”
In September 2009 a daylight commando raid carried out by Navy SEALs in Barawe killed six people, including Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, one of the most-wanted Al-Qaeda operatives in the region and an alleged plotter in the 1998 bombings at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 250 people.
Military raids carried out by troops on the ground carry the risk of a troops being killed or captured, but they also allow the forces to collect bodies or other material as evidence. Missile strikes from sea of unmanned drones carry less risk to troops but increase the chances of accidental civilian deaths.
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Associated Press reporter Robert Burns contributed from Washington. Straziuso reported from Nairobi, Kenya.


Pakistan’s 21-member Cabinet is sworn in, Imran Khan pledges change

Updated 16 min 37 sec ago
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Pakistan’s 21-member Cabinet is sworn in, Imran Khan pledges change

  • President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath of office to 16 federal ministers in Islamabad
  • Separately, Prime Minister Imran Khan has also appointed five advisers to his Cabinet

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s 21-member Cabinet was sworn in Monday, a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan pledged to cut government spending, end corruption and repatriate public funds.
President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath of office to 16 federal ministers in Islamabad. Separately, Khan has also appointed five advisers to his Cabinet.
Khan, whose populist party won most parliament seats in the July 25 elections but fell short of a majority, forcing it to form a coalition, took the oath of office on Saturday as Pakistan’s 22nd premier. He campaigned on promises of rooting out endemic corruption and breaking powerful landowners’ monopoly on political power.
“I want to see Pakistan a great country” with social services for the poor, Khan said.
Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said after taking his oath of office that he is aware of foreign policy challenges ahead. Foreign policy, he said, will be revised and set on the correct path, in the “interest of Pakistan.”
Qureshi said he would reach out to counterparts in the region and focus on key issues of critical importance to Pakistan.
“Pakistan needs a peaceful and stabilized Afghanistan; our future is linked to peace in Afghanistan” Qureshi said. He said he wants to visit Kabul soon with a message that “we have to help and support each other and have to look for solutions of each other’s problems.”
Both neighboring India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and cannot afford any adventure, he said. “We have long standing, complex problems and have no option but to start a dialogue.”
He welcomed that Indian Prime Minister Modi in a congratulatory message to Khan expressed desire for talks.
As for ties with the United States, Qureshi said Pakistan wants bilateral relations based on respect and trust.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to make a stop in Islamabad on his way to India and Afghanistan in the first week of September.
“There is a trust deficit in our relations from both sides and we have to bridge it” Qureshi said of US and Pakistan. “In meetings with the US secretary of state, I will boldly apprise him of our aspirations.”