US airstrikes kill 150 Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia
The United States military on Sunday carried out airstrikes targeting terror group Al-Shabaab in Somalia and killed about 150 fighters, the defense department has announced.
In a statement issued Monday, the Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook revealed Sunday’s attacks were executed using both drones and manned aircraft.
Cook said the operation targeted Raso Camp, a training facility for the Al Qaeda-allied group 200 miles in the North of the capital Mogadishu.
“The removal of these fighters degrades al-Shabaab’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Somalia, including recruiting new members, establishing bases and planning attacks on U.S. and AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) forces,” Cook said adding the attacks were aimed at defending US troops, and AMISOM peacekeepers in the horn of Africa nation against “an imminent threat” at the hands of the terror group.
The United States says it has been surveilling the training camp for several weeks before ordering the airstrikes.
The United States troops, deployed at Mogadishu Airport are in Somalia to support AMISOM forces fight Al-Shabaab. US has in the past carried out airstrikes against the group’s leadership but it is not clear whether or not there were top commanders in the latest victims.
Al-Shabaab has carried out deadly attacks in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya killing hundreds of civilians. Recently the group ambushed Kenyan peacekeepers in Somalia killing a significant number of them. The Kenya Defense Forces has not revealed the exact number of the fallen peacekeepers.
The jihadist group has not confirmed US claims.
In a related development, a bomb hidden in a laptop exploded Monday at Somalia’s Beledweyn airport killing and injuring several people. Although no group has claimed responsibility, Al-Shabaab carried out a similar attack last month placing a bomb aboard a Daallo Airlines jetliner. The bomb exploded in mid-air forcing the Djibouti-bound flight to land at Mogadishu International Airport.
These attacks come at a time when the African Union (AU) is appealing to the European Union not to cut funding to the peacekeeping operations in Somalia.
The EU has announced plans to slash its package to AMISOM by 20% prompting the AU to suggest the move will negatively impact peacekeeping operations.
“… EU has decided to reduce, by 20 per cent of its funding to AMISOM troop allowances at this critical juncture when AMISOM is increasingly facing capacity challenges for which it needs unwavering financial and logistical support to more effectively discharge its mandate,” AU said in a statement last month.