American war planes killed more than a dozen people in a town in the west of Somalia today, including one said to be the leader of that country's branch of al-Qaeda. Reuters reports that the airstrike on a band of Somali insurgents killed Aden Hashi Ayro, whose militants are blamed for an Iraq-style insurgency, complete with unprecedented suicide bombings, against the Somali military and its Ethiopian allies.
Ayro led the militant wing of the Council of Islamic Courts, which took over the southern half of the country in 2006 but was later routed by Somali and Ethiopian forces. The American military has long viewed the essentially lawless nation in the Horn of Africa as a haven for Islamic militants. Al-Qaeda operatives based in Somalia were suspected in the 1998 bombing of the American embassy in Nairobi and a 2002 attack on an Israeli-owned hotel.