US drone strike kills ‘several’ Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia
The United States military says it has carried out a drone strike against Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, killing “several”.
A statement from the US Africa Command on Saturday confirmed that the strike was conducted Friday night in the Lower Shabelle region, which is located about 20 miles away from the capital, Mogadishu. This comes a day after a previous strike was carried out in the Bay Region, roughly 100 miles west of the capital.
‘Several’ killed in airstrike
The US military hasn’t confirmed the number of militants killed in this latest strike but it did say “several” were killed in the exercise. Friday’s strike is the 23rd to be carried out by the US military this year in the country’s efforts to support Somalia in the fight against Al-Shabaab.
The uptake in US involvement follows President Trump’s approval to extend operations against extremist groups in the Horn of Africa region earlier this year.
Earlier this month, the US carried out its first airstrike against ISIS fighters in Somalia. The strike targeted a small group of fighters in the northern Puntland region – a small but growing cell that emerged roughly two years ago.
Somali forces kill 81 Al-Shabaab fighters
On Saturday, Somalia’s Information Minister Abdirahman Osman also confirmed that 81 Al-Shabaab fighters were killed in an operation carried out by Somali forces in Jilib district. Somali is also stepping up its efforts against the terrorist group as the African Union begins to withdraw troops from the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
There is growing concern that the country’s army won’t be ready to lead the fight against Al-Shabaab once AMISOM troops are fully withdrawn. Last month, the militant group was blamed for a truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 350 people – Somalia’s worst-ever attack and the world’s deadliest in the years.
Featured image: By U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt – http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/081131-F-7734Q-001.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5518219