January 15, 2007

EU warns US bombing escalates Somalia violence

BRUSSELS, Jan 15 (Reuters) - EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel on Monday warned the U.S. strike on suspected al Qaeda targets in southern Somalia last week could lead to an escalation of violence there.
"I repeat: the future of Somalia depends on political solutions," Michel told reporters after talks in Brussels with Somali Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan on ending weeks of war in the Horn of Africa country. Michel said such attacks could not only hit civilians but lead to "an escalation of military activity in south Somalia which risks having a negative impact on the process of peace process and reconciliation -- which should be our main priority". Michel, whose office said last week the U.S. strike was "not helpful", said he could not rule out the presence of al Qaeda in the area but insisted he had seen no intelligence confirming it.
Washington launched an air strike on southern Somalia on Monday, which officials said was aimed at al Qaeda suspects accused of bombing two U.S. embassies and an Israeli-owned hotel in east Africa. It killed up to 10 al Qaeda allies, but missed its main target of three top suspects, the U.S. government said. Washington denies carrying out any further strikes. The strike was the United States' first overt military involvement in Somalia since a disastrous peacekeeping mission ended in 1994.

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