Aircraft raid Islamist base in S Somalia

14:46, June 24, 2011      

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Unidentified aircraft overnight launched aerial attack against Islamist rebel base in the southern port city of Kismanyu, Islamist rebels and residents confirm Friday.

The attack was launched by two aircrafts possibly helicopters against a militant base in an area known as Qandal almost 10 km south of the port city controlled by Somalia's Al Shabaab rebel group, residents in the area said.

Sheikh Hassan Yacquub, a senior Islamist spokesman, told rebel-run radio station that the two aircrafts which he said were helicopters attacked the base where insurgent fighters train while fighters responded with anti-aircraft missiles.

The spokesman said three of the fighters were "slightly" injured after the aircrafts bombarded the base near the port town, 500 km south of Mogadishu.

Residents in the area spoke about aircraft sounds followed by huge blasts and a hail of anti-aircraft fire to counter the air raid on the rebel base where foreign fighters are reported to have been training local militants.

"We heard very huge explosions in the area and the sound of aircraft hovering over a place far from where I was. I could see flash of lights coming out of the planes," a resident told Xinhua by phone from the remote area on condition of anonymity.

Reports from Kismanyu city say that "several" Islamist fighters wounded in the attack were brought to the general hospital in the city which was heavily guarded by rebel forces to prevent civilians from seeing the wounded.

It was not immediately clear the identity of the aircrafts that carried out the raid or the target of the assault but Islamist rebels were quick to blame the U.S. forces for launching the attack.

U.S. especial forces have previously carried out similar attacks in Somalia in which two important Islamist leaders were killed. The U.S. government accuses Somali insurgent Al Shabaab movement of having links to al-Qaida and of harboring foreign extremists in the war-torn country.

The radical group controls much of south and center of Somalia including part of the capital Mogadishu.

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