MOGADISHU (AFP) — Thousands of Somalis took to the streets Sunday to protest a US bombing that killed a man said to be Al-Qaeda's chief in the country, and 11 other people, organisers and residents said.
The protest took place at Dhusamareb, a trading post of about 100,000 people, 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu, where Thursday's attack took place.
Abdirasak Moalim Ahmed, one of the organisers of the protest, said that in the days since the attack, people had been vomiting. "We believe the Americans used poisonous bombs," he said.
The US air strike killed at least 12 people including Moalim Aden Hashi Ayro. The Somali government and western intelligence said was the leader of Al-Qaeda in the country.
Ayro in his early 30s, was military leader of the Shabab, a group on the US government's terrorist list. Their leaders are believed to have trained and fought with Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan.
Dhusamareb is also the hometown of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a hardline cleric called a terrorist by the United States, which says he has links to Al-Qaeda.
A former army colonel, he was a mentor to Ayro and a founder of the Somali Islamic courts that are also accused of hosting extremists.
Since the Islamists were ousted from Mogadishu in early 2007, they have carried out attacks against government officials, Ethiopian forces backing the Somali government and African Union peacekeepers.
Western intelligence officials have warned that lawlessness in Somalia has created room for Islamists and other groups linked to Al-Qaeda to operate.
The shattered African nation has been wracked by violence since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre led to a bloody power struggle that has defied numerous bids to restore normalcy.
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