US defends Ethiopian attacks
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.’’