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US 'plans to leave Somalia'

The Clinton administration is stepping up its planning for the withdrawal of US military forces in Somalia after the death of four US servicemen in Mogadishu last weekend, according to a report published in the US capital, Phil Reeves reports from Washington.

Quoting an unnamed senior government official, the Washington Post said the attack had focused the White House on the question of how and when to withdraw its remaining 4,000 troops without suffering excessive political damage.

This claim comes despite public assurances from the Pentagon that the killings have not triggered a review of US policy. After the attack, Mr Clinton promised to take 'appropriate action', a warning repeated by the Chairman of Joint Chief of Staffs, General Colin Powell, who said the US was 'interested in going after any of those responsible for the incident'.