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U.S. Will Continue to Target Aidid Despite Failed Weekend Mission

By Art Pine and John M. Broder
Los Angeles Times


The Clinton administration acknowledged Monday that lieutenants of fugitive Somali warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid had been the target of a weekend raid in Mogadishu by elite U.S. troops and warned that despite the failure to capture them more such efforts would be forthcoming.

In an unusually candid admission, the Defense Department confessed that intelligence reports indicating the whereabouts of Aidid's lieutenants were incorrect and that U.S. troops -- which included some of the 400 elite Army Rangers sent to Mogadishu last week -- erroneously apprehended eight U.N. workers instead.

Asked about the incident at a news conference, President Clinton defended the need to capture Aidid and his top aides as necessary to securing stability in Mogadishu. While saying he was "open to other suggestions," he said Aidid had "provoked" the raid by killing U.S. and U.N. troops.

Despite the obvious embarrassment, there was no immediate sign that the United States intended to cut back on its pursuit of Aidid in the wake of Sunday's mishap. Maj. David Stockwell, the U.N. military spokesman, hinted that other such raids were likely.

Military officers and private defense analysts on Monday dismissed the episode as one of the foibles of such a manhunt mission, and predicted that similar incidents would occur with some frequency as the United States continues to pursue its quest for Aidid.