Witnesses: Planes bomb Somali town

AP News
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Posted: Dec 08, 2011 9:33 AM
Witnesses: Planes bomb Somali town

Planes bombed bases belonging to al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants in a southern Somali town on Thursday, killing at least 1 person, residents said.

Bardhere town elder Abdi Aden said he heard the sound of planes and then explosions on Thursday. He said he saw one dead man and three wounded ones being transported in a minivan. Many residents fled the town, he said.

One plane bombed a checkpoint and al-Shabab fighters there were firing guns at it, said resident Mohamed Hussein. Planes also bombed al-Shabab bases in the nearby forest, he said. Residents said they could see smoke billowing from locations near two al-Shabab bases.

The agricultural town of Bardhere is 250 miles (400 kilometers) west of the Somali capital and the site of one of three key bridges over the Juba River.

It was unclear who the planes belonged to, but Kenya has launched multiple bombing raids in Somalia since sending troops across the border in mid-October following a string of kidnappings on Kenyan soil. Kenya blamed al-Shabab for the attacks but the militant group denied responsibility.

The Kenyan military spokesman was unavailable for comment on Friday's raids.

The air strike came a day after the Kenyan parliament approved a plan for their troops in southern Somalia to join a 9,000 strong African Union force supporting the weak U.N.-backed government based in the Somali capital. But the international donors bankrolling the AU force say there is no plan or funding to pay Kenyan troops to come under an AU mandate just yet.

Other countries are already sending troops to bring the AU force up to its mandated limit of 12,000. Any further expansion would have to be approved by the U.N. Security Council.