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Fighter jets kill 10 in Somali air raid

21 December 2011, 18:44

Mogadishu - Fighter jets pounded rebel-held southern Somalia killing at least 10 people and wounding several others, the majority reportedly civilians, witnesses and Islamist militia commanders said on Wednesday.

Military jets targeted several locations in Hosingow in the Lower Juba region, close to the Kenyan border late on Tuesday, local elders said.

"There were at least three military planes that dropped bombs on Hosingow, and one hit a house killing civilians", said Abdi Isak, a witness.

"There were 11 people, most of them civilians, killed in the raid."

"One of the bombs struck near a street where people were running their businesses - they dropped bombs and went away without knowing who they have killed," Ahmed Yusuf, another witness told AFP.

"More than ten have died and 13 others are injured, some of them seriously," he added.

It was not immediately clear where the airplanes were from, but neighbouring Kenya has carried out several bombing raids in the region since launching an offensive against the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab rebels two months ago.

The hardline insurgents, who control large parts of southern Somalia but are facing increasing pressure from regional armies and government forces, condemned the airstrikes.

"The cowardly enemy has targeted civilians in Hosingow and killed more than 10 innocent civilians after their military jets bombed houses," regional Shabaab official Sheikh Abukar Ali said.

"They have targeted civilian areas and committed crimes, but we will not let them go with the innocent blood of our people they have spilt... They will regret this, the mujahideen fighters will avenge the attack," he added.

The Horn of Africa country has been ravaged by a nearly uninterrupted civil war since the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre sparked vicious blood-letting by rival militias fighting for power.

Kenyan military officials vowed last week to carry out further air strikes deeper into rebel-held territory, claiming to have already killed several Shabaab fighters in earlier raids.

- AFP

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