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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 March 2019

US military says it has killed 62 militants in Somalia with air strikes

Dozens of Al Shabab militants were killed in six airstrikes over two days

A soldier holds position as the damage is assessed after Al Shabaab hit a European Union armoured convoy in Mogadishu, Somalia. Reuters
A soldier holds position as the damage is assessed after Al Shabaab hit a European Union armoured convoy in Mogadishu, Somalia. Reuters

At least 62 Al Shabab militants were killed by six US military air strikes over two days, the army's Africa Command (Africom) said on Monday.

Dozens of militants were killed in the strikes in the vicinity of Gandarsh in Somalia's south-central Banaadir province on Saturday and Sunday, Africom said.

Four air strikes on Saturday killed 34 militants and two more on Sunday killed 28, they said.

"Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these airstrikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire and recruit for future attacks," Africom said in a statement.

They said no civilians were killed in the strikes.

Al Shabab uses parts of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct extremist attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radicals, the statement said.

The United States military is conducting precision air strikes against Al Shabab militants under the request of the Somali government and in coordination with the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom), which has the approval of the United Nations Security Council.

With these attacks, the US military has carried out at least 46 air strikes so far this year against Al Shabab, which is allied to Al Qaeda and Africa's most active Islamic extremist group. Al Shabab controls parts of rural southern and central Somalia and continues to stage deadly attacks in Mogadishu and other cities.

The US air strikes have picked up dramatically since President Donald Trump took office and approved expanded military operations in the Horn of Africa nation. Airstrikes also target a small presence of fighters linked to ISIS.

The US's only permanent military base in Africa is in Djibouti, but they have several hundred troops stationed in Somalia as well as a troop presence in other areas of Africa, such as the Sahel.

Updated: December 17, 2018 03:41 PM

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