On September 22nd, U.S. Africa Command said that a US military airstrike killed 18 al-Shabab extremists after US and local forces on the ground came under attack in southern Somalia.
The Associated Press cited Nate Herring, an AFRICOM spokesman who claimed that no US or Somali forces were killed or injured in the attack. The airstrike was carried out on September 21st in self-defense after militants were “observed maneuvering on a combined patrol,” while the US also responded with “indirect fire,” the spokesman said.
The statement also said that the confrontation occurred about 31 miles northwest of the port city of Kismayo. Two other al-Shabab members were killed by Somali forces “with small arms fire during the engagement,” it said.
The operation was Somali-led, according to AFRICOM. The Somali authorities have not commented.
As reported by NBC News, the US has carried out more than 20 airstrikes this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab.
US military involvement in Somalia has grown since President Donald Trump early in his term approved expanded operations against al-Shabab. There had been dozens of drone strikes against the group, as well as late last year the military also carried the first full-fledged airstrike against a small presence of fighters linked to ISIS in northern Somalia. Two US military personnel have been killed since the expanded operations began.
In recent weeks al-Shabab have carried out several attacks. On September 22nd, one person died and another was injured when two car bombs exploded in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, with al-Shabab claiming responsibility for the attacks.
The bombs detonated in two different cars near a main road in the center of the city. As reported by VOA, al-Shabab frequently carries out bombings in Mogadishu and other parts of the Horn of Africa country.
“Two people were injured in the two car bombs. One of them died of the wounds,” said Major Mohamed Hussein, a police officer, cited by VOA.
Reuters cited al-Shabab, which claimed that its members had planted the car bombs and that they were targeting a police official but that he had escaped.
VOA cited another police officer, Ahmed Nur, said one of the cars was parked and had nobody in it, while the second was moving and the two people inside it were the two victims.
On the previous day, at least three people were killed in separate attacks in Mogadishu, including a female university student, who was shot dead in her class by two shooters.
On September 10th, a car bomb in Mogadishu killed six people and injured sixteen outside of a government office in the city. This bombing was the group’s second attack in Mogadishu in September. On September 2, an explosion at a district headquarters killed six people when the militants detonated a truck bomb at a security checkpoint.
On September 8th, al-Shabab attacked a checkpoint in the southwestern region of Bay in Somalia. The attack left four Somali soldiers dead, as well as four others injured. An anonymous military commander was cited by Xinhua as saying that the attack happened in the early hours of September 8th in Makuda village on the outskirts of Baidoa in Bay region.
“They (al-Shabab) attacked our forces and we responded in a heavy gun battle. We lost four soldiers during the fighting while four others were injured but we inflicted heavy casualties on them,” the military official said.
As reported by VOA, al-Shabab fights against Somalia’s western-backed central government and wishes to establish its own rule on the basis of a very strict interpretation of Islamic Law. The group also wants to drive African Union-mandated AMISOM peacekeepers out of the country.