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Somali rebels call for foreign reinforcements

Somalia's al Shabaab insurgents called Wednesday for more foreign militants to join them in the failed Horn of Africa state after U.S. forces killed one of the region's most wanted al-Qaida suspects.
Image: Government soldiers ride in the back of a pickup
Government soldiers patrol Hammer Wayne market in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Monday.Mohamed Dahir / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

Somalia's al Shabaab insurgents called Wednesday for more foreign militants to join them in the failed Horn of Africa state after U.S. forces killed one of the region's most wanted al-Qaida suspects.

The U.S. special forces operation that killed Kenyan-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, 28, in remote southern Somalia Monday has triggered an angry response from Islamist rebels fighting the nation's U.N.-backed government.

The raid likely gained Washington valuable counter-terrorism intelligence, but risked further inflaming anti-Western opinion in a country of growing concern, experts say.

Nabhan, who was wanted over a truck bombing that killed 15 people at an Israeli-owned beach hotel in Kenya in 2002 and a simultaneous but failed missile attack on a Israeli airliner as it left nearby Mombasa, was allied with al Shabaab.

Washington says al Shabaab is al Qaida's proxy in Somalia.

"We call for all Muslim fighters in the world to come to Somalia," Sheikh Mahad Abdikarim, commander of al Shabaab forces in Bay and Bakol regions, told a news conference in Baidoa town.

He also referred to an African Union peacekeeping mission that is backing President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's administration.

Image: Saleh Ali Nabhan
(FILES) This picture released by the Kenyan police on December 10, 2002 shows Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who according to the police was the person who bought the car used to blow up a Mombasa hotel which killed 10 Kenyans, three Israelis and three bombers November 28, 2002. Nabhan, a top al-Qaeda operative who figures high on an FBI list of wanted terror suspects was killed in a US commando attack on a village in southern Somalia on September 14, 2009, US media reported. ABC News and Fox News quoting US officials reported that Kenyan-born Nabhan was killed in the attack in which at least one US helicopter fired on a convoy carrying suspected Al-Qaeda targets in southern Somalia. AFP PHOTO/KENYAN POLICE/HO (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)- / KENYAN POLICE

"If Burundians and Ugandans, who are not Muslims, are allowed to stay in Somalia, who can refuse our Muslim brothers to join us in the struggle?" Abdikarim asked.

Change in tactics
Monday's raid marked an apparent change in tactics for the U.S. military, which has previously targeted wanted militants in Somalia using missiles, as opposed to helicopter-borne troops.

Western security agencies say the country, where fighting has killed more than 18,000 civilians since the start of 2007, has become a safe haven for militants, including foreign jihadists, who use it to plot attacks in the region and beyond.

The U.S. military has launched several airstrikes inside Somalia in the past against individuals including those blamed for the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Abdikarim, the al Shabaab commander, denounced Washington.

"Anybody who believes that America has a veto ... is an infidel with no faith. We must prepare to liberate Afghanistan, Palestine and the al Aqsa mosque," he told reporters.

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