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Somalis protest U.S. air attack

Residents said at least eight civilians were injured by what U.S. officials said were missiles aimed at an alleged terrorist.

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Hundreds of people shouted anti-American slogans yesterday in a southern Somalian town hit Monday by a U.S. air strike targeting an alleged al-Qaeda terrorist linked to attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa.

An aid worker in Dobley, who asked that his name not be used for fear of retribution, said military planes were spotted overhead yesterday. "There is no new bombing today, but the planes are still flying," he said.

The protesters - mainly women and children - took to the streets in Dobley shouting: "Down with the so-called superpower!"

Residents and police said eight people, including four children, had been seriously injured when a home was destroyed in Monday's attack.

In Washington, a Pentagon official and a U.S. law-enforcement official said the target of at least two Tomahawk missiles, launched Monday from a submarine off the coast of the East African nation, was Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the subject on the record. They said they could not say whether the attack succeeded.

Officials believe Nabhan was connected to the simultaneous August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. Al-Qaeda was blamed for the blasts, which killed more than 200 people.

The U.S. military has staged several attacks on suspected extremists in Somalia during the last year.

Washington is concerned that Somalia could become a breeding ground for extremist groups, particularly after Islamists briefly gained control of the south and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden declared support for them.

Dobley is just several miles from Kenya, where border agents tightened controls.

Somalia has been ravaged by violence and anarchy since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, then turned against one another. The current government was formed with U.N. help in 2004, but it has struggled to assert control.