US Africa Command conducts air strikes in Somalia

US says attacks were conducted in coordination with Somali government forces and targeted ISIL in country's northeast.

    US Africa Command says it will continue to target 'terrorists' throughout Somalia [File: AP]
    US Africa Command says it will continue to target 'terrorists' throughout Somalia [File: AP]

    The US army says it has conducted two separate air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in northeastern Somalia, killing several members of the group. 

    Friday's attacks were in coordination with Somali government forces, the statement said. 

    The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said the first strike occurred at approximately midnight local Somalia time (21:00 GMT), with the second strike occurring at approximately 11am local Somalia time (08:00 GMT).

    "We are currently assessing the results of the strike," the statement said.

    Reports from Somalia suggest ISIL has been recruiting members there since it became active in the country, although the scale of its activities is far smaller than that of al-Shabab.

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    At least 350 people were killed in a truck bombing in the capital, Mogadishu, last month, in the largest attack the country has seen.

    ISIL captured a port town in the mountainous areas of Puntland region last month.

    The AFRICOM statement said that US forces will continue to cooperate with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) to target "terrorists", their training camps and safe havens throughout Somalia.

    From the Horn of Africa in the east to the Sahel, encompassing Central and West Africa, security forces backed by Western troops have been stepping up efforts to counter armed groups such as ISIL, Boko Haram, al-Shabab and al-Qaeda.

    The presidents of the Sahel countries, including Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad, are working on final modalities to set up a G5 Sahel force to help fight the numerous groups that are active in the region.

    Niger ambush

    Earlier this month, five Nigerien and four American soldiers were killed and others wounded in an ambush on a joint patrol in southwest Niger.

    The attack marked the first US combat casualties in Niger and snowballed into a major controversy in Washington over the circumstances of the deaths.

    The US has roughly 6,000 military personnel spread across the continent, according to AFRICOM.

    The stated mission of many of those troops is to support African armies, alongside allies like France, with the goal of increasing the African nations' own security capabilities and stabilisation of the region.

    AFRICOM began initial operations 10 years ago, in October 2007.

    WATCH - Somalia president: 'Al-Shabab fingerprints all over' Mogadishu attack

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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