September 22, 2009 / 1:08 AM / 8 years ago

INTERVIEW-U.S. raid in Somalia raises concerns-Kenyan minister

3 Min Read

* U.S. "lone ranger" behavior doesn't work - Kenya

* Kenya urges stronger mandate for Somalia peacekeepers

By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK, Sept 21 (Reuters) - The U.S. raid in Somalia that killed a senior al Qaeda militant last week raises questions about "lone ranger behavior" by the United States, Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said on Monday.

U.S. special forces killed Kenya-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, 28, who was wanted for a hotel bombing and a failed missile attack on an Israeli airliner leaving Kenya's Mombasa airport in 2002.

Asked about the U.S. raid, which analysts say risks further inflaming anti-Western opinion a region of growing concern, Wetangula expressed mixed feelings.

"To the extent that the United States has said that the operation had some limited success ... if their operation has any value to add, we would welcome it," Wetangula told Reuters in New York where he was attending the U.N. General Assembly.

"What I do not feel comfortable with is the fact that the U.S. would want to conduct operations in our neighborhood without information or cooperation or collaboration," he said.

"That lone ranger behavior has often not succeeded in many places."

Nabhan was killed by U.S. special forces who struck a car in the rebel-held south of the Horn of Africa state.

He is said to have built the truck bomb that killed 15 people at an Israeli-owned beach hotel on the Kenyan coast in 2002 and was accused of involvement in a simultaneous but failed missile attack on the Israeli airliner.

U.S. President Barack Obama has criticized his predecessor George W. Bush for acting unilaterally to the detriment of relations with the rest of the world.

Wetangula said countries in the region were actively engaged in supporting the U.N.-backed government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, which faces a growing insurgency by Islamist rebels of al Shabaab.

"(Regional countries) would welcome engagement with partners. But when we get to know after the fact, of course it raises some justifiable degrees of concern as to the value of our partnership in certain respects," Wetangula said.

Escalating violence in Somalia fueled by an influx of "mercenary fighters" from abroad was the greatest security challenge to the region, he said.

Last week's twin suicide car bombs that killed 17 peacekeepers at the main AU military base in Mogadishu reinforced the need to expand the mandate of the force to include peace-building as well as peace-keeping, he said.

"Where is the peace? There is no peace." (Editing by Chris Wilson)





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