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Drone strike kills over 150 al-Shabab militants

March 7, 2016

Al-Shabab militants were preparing "a large-scale attack" on US and African Union forces, said the Pentagon. The airstrike comes as Somalia struggles to develop a domestic counterterrorism apparatus to combat the group.

The US has launched drone strikes against the militant group before
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/K. Wigglesworth

US forces carried out a drone strike on a training camp in Somalia run by the al-Shabab militant group, killing more than 150 fighters, said a Pentagon spokesman on Monday.

"The fighters were there training and were training for a large-scale attack. We know they were going to be departing the camp and they posed an imminent threat to the US and (African Union) forces," said Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis.

The airstrike took place on Saturday around 195 kilometers (120 miles) away from the Somali capital Mogadishu.

"Initial assessments are that more than 150 terrorist fighters were eliminated," Davis added.

Al-Shabab, which is allied with the al-Qaeda militant group, has launched several attacks on government and international targets.

In 2015, nearly 150 people were killed when al-Shabab militants launched an attack on neighboring Kenya's Garissa University.

'Capacity building'

Since January, the al-Qaeda affiliated group has carried out assaults in Mogadishu, typically targeting upscale hotels in the nation's capital.

Nairobi-based security analyst Emmanuel Kisiangani told DW that Somalia needs further funding to build domestic security apparatuses that do not have to rely on the African Union's (AU) AMISOM forces.

"Somalia needs capacity building and funds. The government has been recruiting individuals to the police, but they are not paid for a very long time. Meanwhile, al-Shabab is raising funds from different sources, including taxes," Kisiangani said.

Somalia descended into chaos in 1991 when armed opposition groups brought down the military-style government of the late President Siad Barre.

ls/jil (AFP, Reuters, dpa)