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Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:02 PM   |   0 comments

U.S. supported failed French rescue

BULOMARER, Somalia, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama revealed Sunday U.S. combat aircraft flew in support of the failed French effort to free a captured French spy in Somalia.

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Obama said U.S. forces "provided limited technical support to the French forces in that operation, but took no direct part in the assault on the compound where it was believed the French citizen was being held hostage."

"United States combat aircraft briefly entered Somali airspace to support the rescue operation, if needed," the U.S. president said. "These aircraft did not employ weapons during the operation.

"I directed U.S. forces to support this rescue operation in furtherance of U.S. national security interests, and pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as commander in chief and chief executive."

Obama cited his authority "consistent with the War Powers Resolution," and said his notice to the speaker was part of his effort to keep Congress apprised of U.S. military actions.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said al-Shabaab's militant response with heavy weapons during the Friday attempt to rescue French secret service agent Denis Allex came as a surprise.

Two French soldiers and 17 insurgents died in the effort to free Allex, Euronews.net reported Sunday.

"We underestimated that," he said.

Le Drian said Allex was killed by his captors. Al-Shabaab said the hostage was alive, but had been moved to a new location and his fate would be decided within the next two days.

Allex has been held in what France said was inhumane conditions since his capture in Mogadishu in July 2009.


Suspect shot in San Diego theater scare

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- San Diego police said they had to shoot and wound a domestic-violence suspect in a confrontation inside a suburban movie theater.

The man, identified as Tom Billodeaux, 20, of Escondido, was recovering Sunday from multiple gunshot wounds suffered when he allegedly pulled a gun on officers inside the Reading Cinemas in the Carmel Mountain neighborhood Saturday afternoon.

Police Capt. Terry McManus said about 15 customers were inside the theater where the shooting took place. None was injured. The suspect apparently tried to hide from officers looking for him by ducking into the theater.

U-T San Diego reported patrons fled the theater as police rushed in with guns drawn. "We saw four cops with assault rifles go by us, toward the theater," said Todd Cope, an employee of a neighboring store. "Moments later, a lady came in here and said she had heard a gunshot."

A police helicopter circled above the shopping center and police with dogs searched every store and inspected cars leaving the parking lot. Motorists were asked to open their trunks so officers could make sure no other suspects were trying to slip away.

The Los Angeles Times reported police had responded about 2:30 p.m. to reports of a man assaulting a woman in a parking lot. Billodeaux allegedly had shown up at his girlfriend's workplace and physically attacked her.

Police said once inside the theater Billodeaux pretended to be a movie patron. Lt. Ernie Herbert said officers ordered him to show his hands, which he did before reaching for a gun in his lap and raising it toward one officer.

The suspect was wounded in the arm and chest and taken to a hospital, the Times said.


U.N. Security Council to meet on Mali

BAMAKO, Mali, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- France has called a U.N. Security Council meeting Monday to hold consultations on Mali, the French U.N. Mission said on its website.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged Britain will provide non-combat help to France's military intervention in Mali, British officials said Sunday.

Cameron committed to providing two planes to transport troops and their equipment within a day or two, The Times said in London.

The agreement came in a phone call between Cameron and French President Francois Hollande, the newspaper said.

The prime ministers office stressed no British troops would not engage in combat in Mali.

"The prime minister spoke to President Hollande to discuss the deteriorating situation in Mali and how the U.K. can support French military assistance provided to the Malian government to contain rebel and extremist groups in the north of the country," a Cameron spokesman said.

French jets Sunday again bombarded Mali, where Islamist extremists have occupied the northern part of the country for the past nine months, officials said.

Sunday was the third day of a French intervention in the West African country, Radio France Internationale reported.

"There were [airstrikes] last night, there are now and there will be today and tomorrow," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

"Our intervention is ongoing and we will continue in order to make them [Islamist fighters] retreat and allow Malian and African forces to go forward and re-establish the territorial integrity of the country," Le Drian said.

African troops were expected to start arriving in Mali Sunday; Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal Saturday each pledged 500 troops for an African-led intervention in Mali.


Air Force plans to deploy planes in Japan

TOKYO, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. government official said the Air Force plans to deploy Osprey planes in Okinawa, but a Japanese official said Okinawa would never agree to such a plan.

Michael Donley, the U.S. Air Force secretary, said the CV-22 Ospreys likely would be deployed at Kedena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture, Tokyo's Yomiuri Shumbun reported Sunday.

Susumu Matayoshi, an Okinawa prefectural spokesman told Christopher Johnstone, director for Northeast Asia at the U.S. Department of Defense, that Okinawa Prefecture would never agree to the planes' deployment.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera Friday said Washington had not informed it of plans for such deployment.

"Any deployment of the Air Force CV-22 to the Asia-Pacific region is years away. ... The United States has not notified the government of Japan about the CV-22 because we have not made a basing decision," the Pentagon later said.

Japan raised safety concerns about the CV-22 after one of the planes crashed in Florida during a training mission in June, the newspaper reported.

Washington gave Tokyo a report saying the crash was not due to mechanical defects, but rather was caused by human error, the newspaper reported.

"I would like to tell (the U.S. side) that they should act after carefully considering the feelings of Okinawans," said Onodera.

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