Freed US pilot flies out as focus in Somalia shifts

(First Edition)

MOGADISHU (AP/AFP) - Strapped to a stretcher and clutching his red beret, the freed United States pilot, Michael Durant, was airlifted by helicopter yesterday on his way to a military hospital in Germany.

Chief Warrant Officer Durant woke 'in excellent spirits' after surgery on Thursday on his broken leg, and has every chance of a full recovery for his fractured back and a broken cheekbone, an army doctor said.

The Somali militia leader, General Mohamed Farrah Aideed, released Warrant Officer Durant on Thursday - after 11 days in captivity - in a move that enhanced the General's political stature and diminished his status as a wanted guerrilla leader challenging international law.

It was an about-face that paralleled President Bill Clinton's shift from military force to diplomacy in Somalia after the 3 October battle in which Warrant Officer Durant, 32, was captured. Eighteen American soldiers were killed and more than 70 were wounded in that UN raid, a toll that stunned leaders in the US and prompted calls for an American withdrawal.

The UN special representative, Admiral Jonathan Howe, flew to Djibouti yesterday with Kofi Annan, head of UN peace-keeping operations, and James Jonah, UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, diplomats said. There was speculation that they would meet the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in Djibouti to discuss how to reshape the organisation's policy in Somalia following Washington's shift away from trying to arrest General Aideed and towards a peaceful settlement.

Speculation mounted that Admiral Howe, a retired US naval officer, would be removed as head of the UN Operation in Somalia, which took over from Washington's Operation Restore Hope in May. Diplomats said Admiral Howe was coming under pressure from the US to cancel the arrest warrant he issued for General Aideed in June after Somali militiamen killed 24 Pakistani peace-keepers. An international commission, led by Ethiopia, has been proposed to investigate clashes between Aideed supporters and UN peace-keepers.

President Clinton, stinging from the lessons learned in Somalia, has renewed his criticism of UN peace-keeping operations, blaming the world body for the ongoing struggle with General Aideed. But Mr Clinton, speaking late on Thursday, left the door open to US participation in an eventual multinational force in Bosnia, as long as it is under US command so that mistakes made under UN orders in Somalia are not repeated.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...

Recruitment Genius: Corporate Account Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Corporate Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Chef de Partie

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders