Aiming for al-Qaida terrorist, Navy fires missile in Somalia

The U.S. Navy fired at least one missile into a southern Somali town before dawn Monday, targeting a terrorism suspect as an Islamic group with links to al-Qaida appears to be gathering sway again in this lawless African nation.

Residents and police in Dobley said at least eight people, including four children, were seriously injured when a home was destroyed. The attack was confirmed by U.S. officials, who said only that the target was a “known al-Qaida terrorist.”

The U.S. military has staged several attacks on suspected extremists in Somalia over the past year amid fears the Horn of Africa country could become a haven for terrorists.

Iraqi court drops charges related to killings, kidnappings

An Iraqi court dropped charges Monday against two former Health Ministry officials accused of allowing Shiite death squads to use ambulances and government hospitals to carry out kidnappings and killings.

The three-judge panel cited a lack of evidence in its decision, which came despite serious reports of witness intimidation.

Minority Sunnis have viewed the case as a major test of the judiciary in this Shiite-dominated country, and the ruling was likely to hurt U.S. efforts to promote national reconciliation between the Muslim sects.

A lawmaker with Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi’s Sunni Islamic Party called the decision a “betrayal of the Iraqi judicial system.”

13 killed in Kenyan shootings, fires

Dozens of people with assault rifles and machetes stormed a village in western Kenya early Monday, killing at least 13 people, including six children, police said. Some were burned alive in their homes.

National Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said the attack in Embakasi village was over land, not the country’s disputed Dec. 27 presidential election, which unleashed weeks of nationwide bloodshed.

Rabson Mbuya, whose said his wife, three children and housekeeper were killed, said he was patrolling the area as part of his job in the police reserve when the attackers came.

Construction spending dips by 1.7 percent nationwide

Construction spending took its biggest nosedive in 14 years and manufacturing activity contracted, fresh trouble signs for a struggling economy.

The Commerce Department reported Monday that construction spending plunged by 1.7 percent in January. Builders slashed spending on residential projects, but the weakness spread beyond that ailing sector. There were cutbacks in spending on, among other things, hotels and motels, highways and various projects by state and local governments.

“I think we’re in a self-reinforcing downward cycle,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s

Another report showed fallout from housing and credit problems cutting deeper into manufacturing.

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index clocked in at 48.3 in February. That was the weakest reading in nearly five years.

– Compiled from

Daily wire reports

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