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Aircraft Attack Al Qaeda Haven, Ike Moves off Somalia

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2007 – A U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship attack in Somalia on Jan. 7 targeted senior terrorist leaders, a senior Pentagon official confirmed today.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters the attack targeted "what we believe to be principal al Qaeda leadership" operating in the southern part of Somalia.

Whitman declined to discuss damage assessments or the effectiveness of the strike, or future operations in the area.

The U.S. 5th Fleet moved the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower into the waters off Somalia in an effort to capture al Qaeda terrorists attempting to flee the country, a 5th Fleet spokesman said.

Whitman said the attacks were aimed at terrorists who may have struck the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. "We are going to continue to work in close cooperation with our allies in the region, who all understand the importance of pursuing terrorist activities and denying them safe havens," he said.

More U.S. ships are moving in to the waters off Somalia to reinforce the maritime interdiction effort there, said U.S. 5th Fleet officials. “Due to rapidly developing events in Somalia, U.S. Central Command has tasked USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to join USS Bunker Hill, USS Anzio and USS Ashland to support ongoing maritime security operations off the coast of Somalia,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown, a spokesman for 5th Fleet in Bahrain.

The ships will stop vessels and search them for al Qaeda terrorists attempting to escape from Somalia, officials said.

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