Uptick in US strikes on al-Shabab militants in Somalia

Uptick in US strikes on al-Shabab militants in Somalia
2 min read
17 December, 2018
The US has announced a series of air strikes on al-Shabab militant targets in Somalia.
The Somali government has forced back al-Shabab [AFP]
A series of US airstrikes in Somalia over the weekend have killed 62 al-Shabab militants, the military's Africa Command said it a statement on Monday.

The US said it carried out four strikes on 15 December killing 34 militants, and two more on 16 December resulting in 28 al-Shabab fighters.

The strikes were all concentrated on the Gandarshe coastal area south of the capital, Mogadishu, it said, claiming that all those killed were militants and no civilians were killed in the attack.

All six strikes were carried out in close coordination with Somalia's government, the US said, and "conducted to prevent al-Shabab from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks".

Al-Shabab uses parts of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct attacks on government and civilian targets, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace, and shelter radicals, said the statement.

The strikes hint at growing US intervention in the East African country under President Donald Trump, analysts have said.

"These latest airstrikes appear to show an uptick in AFRICOM's activity in Somalia," said The New Arab's James Brownsell.

 "There have now been 45 known US airstrikes in Somalia in 2018; up from 35 in 2017."

Al Shabab - which is aligned to al-Qaeda - controls parts of rural southern and central Somalia. Militants from the group have staged deadly attacks in Mogadishu and other cities.

US air strikes have also targeted a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State group in the area.

Agencies contributed to this story.