A small group of Islamists suddenly appeared in a remote Somali village, attempting to set up a new base of operations. Local authorities assume they escaped from the trap at Ras Kamboni, bringing guns and small boats, and almost immediately picking fights. They thought the dense foliage around their position made them safe from concentrated attack. The US Navy has disabused them of that notion:
At least one U.S. warship bombarded a remote, mountainous village in Somalia where Islamic militants had set up a base, officials in the northern region of Puntland said Saturday. ...
A local radio station quoted Puntland's leader, Ade Muse, as saying that his forces had battled with the extremists for hours before U.S. ships arrived and used their cannons. Muse said five of his troops were wounded, but that he had no information about casualties among the extremists.
A task force of coalition ships, called CTF-150, is permanently based in the northern Indian Ocean and patrols the Somali coast in hopes of intercepting international terrorists. U.S. destroyers are normally assigned to the task force and patrol in pairs.
As many as 35 fighters may have arrived in Puntland. It's not a large force, but likely an advance group sent to find some toehold in the northern part of Somalia, in order to assist in the escape of the remaining forces in the south, where the Ethiopians and the Kenyans have them in a vise. More probes will follow, but it appears that all of the Islamists' opponents have prepared themselves for that contingency.
The US Navy has sent a message, too. We have not forgotten that the UIC hid the perpetrators of the 1998 African embassy bombings, and we consider them partners with al-Qaeda. They may think dense forests offer them protection from serious attack, but in truth it makes it easier for us to hit them, as their remote positions remove the worries of collateral damage.
In other words, they can run ... but they can't hide.