A US warship shelled suspected al-Qaeda targets in northeastern Somalia after Islamist fighters clashed with troops from the country's semi-autonomous region of Puntland, witnesses and officials said yesterday.
They said a US Navy destroyer fired on several targets overnight where Islamist militants are believed to have bases in mountainous and remote areas outside the coastal town of Bargal.
"The US military was targeting the al-Qaeda hideout. This was aimed at flushing out all the terrorists," said Mussa Jelle Yusuf, the governor for Barri region.
"Puntland troops are surrounding the Bargal hills and hunting for those Al-Qaeda elements. They ... will be captured or killed," he said.
Witnesses earlier confirmed the bombardment, but could not say if there had been any casualties.
"We cannot yet tell you the casualty figures, but what I can confirm is that the American warship shelled several targets in the surroundings of Bargal" late on Friday, a resident in the area said.
"The heavy shelling continued about three hours around the coastal area and the mountainous sites where the Islamists had their trenches," he said.
CNN reported that the destroyer was targeting a suspected al-Qaeda operative believed to have been involved in the 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.