US de­fends Ethiopian at­tacks

Townsville Bulletin - - News -

THE United States yes­ter­day de­fended Ethiopia’s as­sault on Is­lamists in So­ma­lia, which has re­port­edly killed more than 1000 peo­ple, but said ‘max­i­mum re­straint’ was needed to spare civil­ians.

Wash­ing­ton gave its first of­fi­cial re­ac­tion to the op­er­a­tion, which Ethiopia said in­flicted a mas­sive blow on the Is­lamists, as the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil met to con­sider whether to call for an end to the fight­ing.

Mainly Chris­tian Ethiopia has jus­ti­fied the in­ter­ven­tion on the grounds that the Is­lamist move­ment threat­ens its se­cu­rity, but fight­ing has sparked fears that a wider con­flict could en­gulf the Horn of Africa re­gion.

Gonzo Gal­le­gos, a State De­part­ment spokesman, said Ethiopia’s of­fen­sive was in­tended to halt ‘ag­gres­sions’ by the Coun­cil of Is­lamic Courts (CIC) move­ment, which the United States this month said had been taken over by al-Qaeda.

Asked whether the US was of­fer­ing sup­port to the op­er­a­tion, Mr Gal­le­gos said: ‘‘We see and un­der­stand, they are fac­ing a l e g i t i m a t e a n d g e n u i n e se­cu­rity con­cern.’’

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