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US airstrike kills 35 al-Shabab fighters

February 25, 2019

"Precision strikes" have killed 35 al-Shabab fighters as the group was attempting to "mass their forces" in Somalia, the US military has said. The group had recently claimed responsibility for a car bomb in Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab fighters in the fringes of Mogadishu, 2012
Image: Getty Images/AFP/M. Abdiwahab

The US Africa Command estimated 35 al-Shabab "terrorists" were killed in an aerial bombing targeting the jihadi group in Somalia's central Hiran region.

"In the case of this strike, we interrupted an al-Shabab attempt to mass their forces," the US military said in a statement on Monday, a day after the attack.

"Precision strikes eliminated a potential threat to our partners and to the people of Somalia well before the terrorists ever got themselves organized," the statement added.

Read more: Escape from al-Shabab: 'I was turned into a sex slave'

Al-Shabab aims to overthrow the Somali government and impose strict Islamic law. The militants are allied with the global al Qaeda group. While African Union troops managed to push them out of the center of the Somalian capital Mogadishu in 2011 and subsequently force them out of all urban strongholds, the group remains active in the countryside.

Sahel a refuge for terrorists

It has continued to launch attacks across Somalia, including this month's car bombing which claimed 11 lives at a Mogadishu market.

Bombing not enough

The US has recently boosted its attacks against the group, killing 62 militants in coordinated strikes in December and over 50 more in January.

Earlier this month, however, Africa Command chief Thomas Waldhauser told US lawmakers that air strikes alone would not be enough to stop the group. He also called on the Somalian army to boost its own efforts.

"US forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counterterrorism operations with the Federal Government of Somalia," the Command said on Monday.

dj/jm (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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