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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 February 2019

US says air strike killed 52 Al Shabab militants who attacked Somali base

Al Shabab insurgency is still active despite losing control of most Somali towns in 2011

Rickshaws travel along a street of the southern city of Baidoa, Somalia November 3, 2018. Reuters
Rickshaws travel along a street of the southern city of Baidoa, Somalia November 3, 2018. Reuters

The US military launched an air strike in Somalia on Saturday, which it said killed 52 Al Shabab militants who had attacked a Somali military base earlier in the day.

The air strike targeted Al Shabab fighters who had rammed into the military base near Jilib, 370 kilometres southwest of the capital Mogadishu using a suicide car bomb, military officials in the state of Jubbaland told Reuters.

Pictures taken at the scene after the strike and seen by Reuters showed a large burnt-out flatbed truck surrounded by charred bodies.

Other pictures appeared to show a car rigged with explosives that had not detonated at the Bar Sanguni forward operating base, which had come under Al Shabab attack.

Al Shabab lost control of most Somali cities and towns after African Union and Somali troops pushed the hardline Islamists out of Mogadishu in 2011.

But their insurgency is still active.

On Friday, they ambushed an Ethiopian military convoy 80 kilometres north of Baidoa in central Somalia. Al Shabab said it killed "more than 57 Ethiopian invaders".

Ethiopia's Ministry of Defence said it used helicopter gunships and "successfully repulsed the attack" on the convoy which was able to continue on to its destination, Baidoa.

On Tuesday, Al Shabab militants attacked a hotel compound in neighbouring Kenya, killing at least 21 people.

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The US military said no civilians were believed to have been killed or injured in Saturday's strike.

Al Shabab retains a strong presence in parts of southern and central Somalia, and the US military has stepped up air strikes over the last year.

The group could not immediately be reached for comment.

Updated: January 20, 2019 10:01 AM

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