Ethiopia PM: suspected terrorists from Britain captured in Somalia

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The Independent Online

Ethiopia's prime minister said in an interview published today that suspected terrorists from Canada, Britain, Pakistan and elsewhere have been among those taken prisoner or injured in the military operations in Somalia.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was quoted by French newspaper Le Monde as saying that he didn't know the exact number of prisoners in Somalia "because it changes constantly."

"But many international terrorists are dead in Somalia," Meles was quoted as saying.

"Photographs have been taken and passports from different countries have been collected. The Kenyans are holding Eritrean and Canadian passport holders. We have injured people coming from Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan, the United Kingdom."

Ethiopia forces invaded Somalia last month to prevent an Islamic movement from ousting the weak, internationally recognised government from its lone stronghold in the west of the country.

The US and Ethiopia both accuse the Islamic group of harbouring extremists, among them al Qaida suspects.

The US launched at least two airstrikes on different locations against terror targets in Somalia, an official and witnesses said today.

A US AC-130 gunship attacked suspected al Qaida terrorists near Ras Kamboni in southern Somalia, the Somalia Defence Minister said.

Earlier an eyewitness said a gunship hit targets near Afmadow, 155 miles north of Ras Kamboni.

Somalia's president today said the US was right to launch airstrikes against al Qaida suspects in his country.

"The US has a right to bombard terrorist suspects who attacked its embassies Kenya and Tanzania," President Abdullahi Yusuf told journalists in the capital, Mogadishu.

It is the first overt military action by the US in Somalia since the 1990s and the legacy of a botched intervention - known as Black Hawk Down - that left 18 US servicemen dead.

Meanwhile the US military today said it had sent an aircraft carrier to join three other US warships conducting anti-terror operations off the coast.

US warships have been seeking to capture al Qaida members thought to be fleeing Somalia in the wake of Ethiopia's December 24 invasion.

The US attacks took place yesterday afternoon in Badmadow island.

The area is known as Ras Kamboni and is believed to be a suspected terror training base.