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France defends failed Somali raid as civilian toll mounts

Published on Jan 14, 2013 11:06 AM

MOGADISHU (AFP) - Somali witnesses said at least eight civilians were killed in a disastrous French operation to rescue a secret agent, but France's defence minister defended the decision to launch the raid.

Sources in lawless Somalia suggested the reason why Saturday's raid had failed was that the Al Qaeda-linked Shebab group holding the hostage had received advance warning.

The United States meanwhile confirmed that it had played a limited support role in the French mission.

"Four civilians, including three from one family, are among the dead," resident Adan Derow said by telephone Sunday. "They were all killed outside Bulomarer, where the French commandos landed before entering the city."

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