US military: Five al-Shabaab fighters killed in Somalia strike
U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab group in Somalia on Sunday, killing five militants, U.S. Africa Command (Africom) said Monday.
The strike happened in the afternoon near El Bur, a town in the semi-autonomous central Somali region of Galmudug. The strike also destroyed one vehicle, according to Africom.
Africom said it assessed no civilians were killed in the strike.
“U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect U.S. citizens and to disable terrorist threats,” Africom said in a statement. “This includes partnering with [the African Union Mission in Somalia] and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) in combined counterterrorism operations and targeting terrorists, their training camps and their safe havens throughout Somalia and the region.”
Africom provided no additional details of the strike.
U.S. forces have been working with the Somali government to fight al-Shabaab for years, but under President Trump airstrikes and ground troops have significantly increased. The United States has roughly 500 troops in Somalia.
In March 2017, Trump granted a request from the head of Africom to give commanders more authority to conduct airstrikes and raids against al-Shabaab without high-level, interagency reviews. Late last year, U.S. forces also launched their first strikes against Somalia’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria affiliate.
Underscoring al-Shabaab’s threat, the militants carried a coordinated attack on three African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) bases Sunday in the Lower Shabelle region, an al-Shabaab stronghold near the Somali capital of Mogadishu. AMISOM said it lost four soldiers in the ensuing battles and killed 30 al-Shabaab fighters.