US air strike kills over two dozen Al Shabab militants in central Somalia

A US air strike in central Somalia has killed 27 Al Shabab terrorists, the American military said.

The air strike was conducted on Sept 18 “at the request of the Federal Government of Somalia … against Al Shabab terrorists who were attacking Somali National Army forces near Buulobarde,” the US African Command said in a statement on Wednesday.

No civilians were injured, it added.

“The defensive strikes allowed the Somali National Army and African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) forces to regain the initiative and continue the operation to disrupt Al Shabab in the Hiran region of central Somalia,” the statement said.

“This operation is the largest combined Somali and ATMIS offensive operation in five years.”

Violence has increased in the Hiran region this month as authorities have engaged locals in efforts to reclaim villages from Al Shabab.

Residents reported fierce fighting between Somali forces and terrorists in Booco this week, while senior military officials told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that there were casualties on both sides.

Booco, a strategic town some 55 kilometres (35 miles) east of Hiran’s capital Beledweyne, has been under Al Shabab’s control for more than 13 years.

Somalia has been grappling with increasing insecurity for years, with Al Shabab being one of the main threats in the Horn of Africa country.

Since at least 2007, the armed group has waged a deadly campaign against the Somali government and international forces.

The UN has also warned of growing instability in the country, with its periodic reports on Somalia this year detailing attacks by Al Shabab and pro-Daesh groups.

There were at least 1,518 civilian casualties – 651 killed and 867 injured – in terror attacks in Somalia in 2018, followed by 1,459 – 591 killed and 868 injured – in 2019, according to the UN in Somalia.



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