Johannesburg (AP) – The US military said on Thursday that they killed 24 Al-Shabab extremists as a result of an air strike in Somalia, one of the deadliest in recent months.
An air strike was carried out Wednesday near an extremist camp near Shebyli in the central region of Hiran, north of the capital Mogadishu, the US African Command said in a statement.
It was the ninth such airstrike conducted by the United States this year. Last year, the United States conducted about 50 strikes in the country of the Horn of Africa against al-Shabab associated with al-Qaeda, the most deadly Islamic extremist group in Africa.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack on a hotel complex in the capital of neighboring Kenya earlier this month, which killed 21 people. An extremist group that is chasing Kenya in retaliation for sending troops to Somalia has also bombarded hotels, government offices and checkpoints in Mogadishu with suicide bombers.
The group is also accused of stealing humanitarian aid in a country often affected by drought and extortion of residents and travelers to finance its attacks.
The US statement says that the air strikes are designed to support Somali forces, as they increase the pressure on Al-Shabab and its recruitment efforts in the region, especially in southern and central Somalia. Extremist camps and other shelters are targeted.
A US statement said that not a single civilian was killed or injured as a result of the last air strike.
On January 19, the United States reported that 52 Al-Shabab extremists in the Middle Juba area were killed in an air strike after a “large group” launched an attack on Somali forces. The Somali scout said that an extremist group had gathered about 400 militants for more than a week to deal a serious blow to the Somali and Kenyan forces in order to thwart the planned attack.
In October, the US reported that about 60 militants were killed in an air strike near al-Shabab-controlled Harardere community in Mudug province in the central part of the country.
Since President Donald Trump took office, the United States has sharply increased air attacks on Al-Shabab in Somalia. Experts say that to defeat extremists will require more than airstrikes.
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