A U.S. airstrike that killed the suspected al-Qaida leader in Somalia brought warnings of vengeance from Islamic insurgents Friday and the threat of a boycott that could jeopardize peace talks with the U.N.-supported government.
The biggest alliance supporting Somalia’s Islamic insurgency said it might pull out of planned May 10 talks on escalating fighting and a humanitarian crisis that has caused thousands of civilian deaths and displaced hundreds of thousands over the past year.
“The U.S. strike can undermine the U.N.-sponsored peace parlay,” said Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, exiled chairman of the Alliance for Liberation and Reconstitution of Somalia.
“We will reconsider taking part … due to the U.S. military attack,” he said in a telephone interview from Cairo, Egypt.
The participation of Ahmed’s alliance, which includes both moderates and Islamic hard-liners inside Somalia and in exile, is seen as crucial to the success of talks scheduled in neighboring Djibouti.
In a pre-dawn attack Thursday, U.S. missiles destroyed the house of reputed al-Qaida leader Aden Hashi Ayro in the central town of Dusamareeb. The attack killed 24 other people, five in the targeted house and the others in nearby homes, said a town elder, Ilmi Hassan Arab.
It was the first major success in a string of such U.S. military attacks over the past year in this Horn of Africa nation, but analysts said it was more symbolic and unlikely to significantly weaken the insurgency against the weak interim government.