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A spokesman for 5th Fleet, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said he was unaware of an official request from the Somali transitional government or the Ethiopians for U.S. naval forces to interdict fleeing Somali Islamists, but said coalition naval forces are “prudently” placed in the region as part of normal maritime security operations.

The ships are part of Combined Joint Task Force 150, led by a British commodore, said Cmdr. Kevin Aandahl in a telephone interview on Monday.

Aandahl said he would not elaborate on how many ships or what kind of ships are in the region due to operational security concerns. He said the naval forces were not sent to the area specifically because of the recent war between Ethiopia and Somali Islamic militants.

“We’ve had naval forces in the area for some time,” he said.

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