January 21, 2007 / 12:10 PM / 13 years ago

Reports say U.S. targeted al Qaeda suspects in Somalia

A U.S. gunship has conducted a strike against two suspected al Qaeda operatives in southern Somalia, but it was not known whether the mission was successful, U.S. news networks reported on Monday. REUTERS/Graphic

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. gunship has conducted a strike against two suspected al Qaeda operatives in southern Somalia, but it was not known whether the mission was successful, U.S. news networks reported on Monday.

The U.S. Air Force plane, operated by the Special Operations Command, flew from its base in Djibouti to the southern tip of Somalia, where the al Qaeda suspects were believed to have fled from the capital Mogadishu, U.S. networks reported.

A Pentagon spokesman said he had no information on the reports.

The two suspected al Qaeda operatives were not named but CBS News said one was a suspect in the car bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the other was the Islamist group’s senior leader in East Africa.

The report said many bodies were seen on the ground after the attack by the AC-130 gunship, but the identities of the dead were not confirmed.

The al Qaeda suspects fled Mogadishu after Ethiopian troops invaded on December 28 and were tracked with unmanned aerial drones as they moved south, CBS said.

NBC News reported that U.S. officials said Ethiopian forces, which had conducted raids in Somalia, had gathered intelligence on three potential al Qaeda leaders believed responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania.

NBC reported that the airstrikes were part of an ongoing operation and that the U.S. aircraft carrier Eisenhower was moving from the North Arabian Sea towards Somalia to support the operation.

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