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US strikes Al-Shabab command post in Somalia

June 11, 2017

The Pentagon estimates that eight militants were killed in the attack, which both the US and Somalia deemed a success. A limited US military presence in the Horn of Africa has been battling militants there for years.

Somalia Al-Shabaab Kämpfer
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/F. A. Warsameh

US and Somali forces carried out a joint attack against an al-Shabab command post on Sunday, destroying one of the jihadi group's primary training and command centers.

The US contribution to the attack was an airstrike, while the Somalis committed special-forces to the attack, which took place about 185 miles (300 km) southwest of the capital, Mogadishu.

The Pentagon said the operation occurred at approximately 0600 GMT/UTC "in coordination with regional partners as a direct response to al-Shabab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces."

The base was located in southern Somalia, in the Middle Juba region, according to the Somali government. President Mohamed Abdullahi called the military strike a success.

"Earlier today, I authorized our special forces with the support of our international partners to conduct a strike against an al-Shabab training camp near Sakow," his statement said.

"The mission, which ended successfully, destroyed an important training camp where the group used to organize violent operations," said Mohamed. "This undermines their ability to mastermind more attacks."

The Pentagon estimated the attack killed eight militants, but here was no immediate comment from al-Shabab.

Black Hawk Down

The Pentagon emphasized that the strike was carried out as part of US President Donald Trump's recent authorization of American forces "to conduct legal action against al-Shabab within a geographically defined area of active hostilities in support of (the) partner force in Somalia." 

In early May an American soldier was killed in a nighttime raid in Somalia. It was the first US military death in combat there since 1993 when 18 American soldiers died in the so-called Battle of Mogadishu.

But it was the downing of a US military helicopter the precipitated the deadly fight that gave the battle its more infamous nickname: "Black Hawk Down."

Al-Shabab was pushed out of Mogadishu, and most of Somalia's cities and towns, in 2011. But it maintains a tight grip over much of the south and center of the country, and still launches major gun and bomb attacks from its outposts.

US special-forces have been deployed in Somalia for many years. Drone and missile strikes have also been used against al-Shabab commanders and foot soldiers.

Since 2007, al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida linked group, has been battling to overthrow the internationally backed government in Somalia.

bik/rc (AFP, Reuters)