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Blair backs US crackdown in Somalia


LONDON (AFP) - Prime Minister Tony Blair has said it is his duty to support those fighting terrorists, as he called the extremists in Somalia targeted by US air strikes a threat to the wider world.

Britain should oppose those attempting to warp local decision-making, he said when asked about the US attacks which Washington said targetted Al-Qaeda operatives sheltered by the East African country's defeated Islamist movement.

"What is in the interests of everyone in Somalia is to have a peace process that works properly," Blair told MPs on Wednesday.

"Some of those extremists who have been using methods of violence in order to get their way in Somalia pose a threat not just to the outside world but to people in Somalia as well.

"When we look round the world today, in different parts of the world we can see this global terrorism. It is a clear ideology, it is a clear strategy.

"I think it is right that wherever it is attempting to warp local decision-making and prevent people getting the type of life they want, we should be there standing up and supporting those who are combatting that terrorism and giving people the chance to live in better circumstances."

The US attacks followed the rout of Islamist forces by Ethiopian and Somali government troops.

New US air strikes were reported Wednesday as the United Nations Security Council prepared to discuss moves to send in African peacekeepers.

Somalia has been without a functioning central authority since 1991 and a transitional government set up two years ago was, until the Ethiopian-backed offensive began last month, under the sway of the Islamist movement.

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