62 al-Shabab fighters killed in Somalia air raids: US army

Dozens of al-Qaeda-linked fighters killed in six air strikes carried out over the weekend, preventing a major attack.

Al Shabab [Hamza Mohammed/Al Jazeera]
Last month, the US military said it had killed 37 fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked group [Al Jazeera]

The US military said it killed 62 al-Shabab fighters in six air raids last weekend in the vicinity of Gandarsh in Somalia’s south-central Banaadir province.

The military’s Africa Command (Africom) said on Monday that four attacks were carried out on Saturday, killing 34 fighters, and two more on Sunday, which killed 28.

“Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these air strikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire and recruit for future attacks,” Africom said in a statement.

The air attacks, among the deadliest this year, did not kill any civilians, the statement said. “At this time we assess these air strikes did not injure or kill any civilians.”

Major attack

Somalia: At least 20 killed in Mogadishu explosions, gunfire

The US air strikes were aimed at al-Shabab fighters who were preparing a major attack on a Somali government military base in the Lower Shabelle region, a Somali intelligence official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, told The Associated Press.

The United States carries out regular air raids in Somalia in support of a UN-backed government there, which has been fighting against an al-Shabab rebellion for years.

Last month, the US military said it had killed 37 fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked group.

The air raids bring to 45 the number of strikes the Pentagon has conducted against al-Shabab so far in 2018, military spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said.

Last year, the figure was 35. Manning attributed the increase to operations becoming more “efficient”.

“We’re getting better and because we’re getting better we’re able to … find, fix and eliminate those terrorist organisations,” Manning said.

The air attacks, in a coastal region south of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, were the deadliest in the country since November last year when the US said it had killed 100 fighters.

Source: News Agencies