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US targets al-Shabab militants after Mogadishu bombing

December 30, 2019

The US airstrike came a day after a car bomb in Mogadishu killed at least 79 people. US strikes in Somalia surged after President Donald Trump declared Southern Somalia an "area of active hostilities."

A Somali man stands at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu on December 28, 2019
Image: Reuters/F. Omar

A US airstrike against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militant group on Sunday killed at least four "terrorists," US Africa Command said in a statement.

"In coordination with the federal government of Somalia, US Africa Command conducted three airstrikes in two locations targeting al-Shabab militants in the vicinity of Qunyo Barrow and Caliyoow Barrow, Somalia, respectively, December 29," AFRICOM said.

The US strike came one day after a busy area in Somalia's capital Mogadishu was rocked by a car bomb that killed at least 79 people.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the Saturday bombing, though similar attacks are regularly carried out by al-Shabab, which aims to topple the United Nations-backed government in the African country.

Read more: Mogadishu mayor dies after al-Shabab attack

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed condemned the attack as a "heinous act of terror."

Surge in US air attacks

AFRICOM increased airstrikes against militant groups in the country after President Donald Trump said the southern part of the country posed a security risk.

Read more: US airstrike kills 35 al-Shabab fighters in Somalia

In an April statement, AFRICOM said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 air strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

"Since al-Shabab's first external attack in 2010, the group has ruthlessly killed hundreds," said US Army Major General William Gayler, AFRICOM's director of operations. "They have attacked and killed African partners, allies, and fellow Americans."

In October 2017, the deadliest attack in the country's history left 512 people dead and around 295 injured in Mogadishu. 

The al-Shabab group was forced out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas such as checkpoints and hotels. Two weeks ago, the extremist outfit attacked a hotel popular with politicians, army officers and diplomats, killing five people.

Somalia has suffered through violent conflict since 1991, after clan warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

In recent months, the government has claimed that the security situation has improved, with increased security personnel and surveillance.

Read more: US reopens embassy in Somalia after nearly three decades

shs/se (AFP, dpa)

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