12 November 2017

Somalia: U.S. and Somali Strikes On Shabab Said to Kill Nearly 100 Militants

Nearly 100 members of the Shabab, the Qaeda-linked insurgent group in Somalia, were killed in separate strikes this week, according to Somali and American officials.

More than a dozen militants were killed in a United States airstrike 20 miles north of the capital of Mogadishu, according to Samantha Reho, a spokeswoman with the United States Africa Command. The Friday strike was carried out in coordination with the Somali government, she said in an email.

It was the 23rd American airstrike in the country this year, and the second in 24 hours. On Thursday, airstrikes killed "several militants" in the Bay region, about 100 miles west of Mogadishu, according to a statement from the Africa Command.

Separately, the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency killed 81 Shabab fighters earlier this week in Jilib, in southern Somalia, government officials said on Saturday.

The state security forces "planted mines in a militant bomb-making site in Jilib district," Abdirahman Omar Osman, the Minister of Information, said by telephone.

Jilib is a Shabab stronghold about 75 miles north of the port city of Kismayo, where militants attacked a Somali army base in September.

Mr. Osman claimed the attack "destroyed all explosive materials" and "technical vehicles" Shabab had stored at the site. He declined to give further details of the attack, citing a pending investigation.

Andalus radio, the broadcast arm of the Shabab, denied there was any attack on Jilib. The group's spokesman told the radio station that no fighters had been killed.

Neither claim could be independently verified, and both the government and the Shabab have been known to exaggerate or minimize casualty claims for propaganda purposes.

In October, a truck bomb at a busy intersection in Mogadishu killed 358 people; the Shabab were blamed for the attack.

The group also claimed responsibility for a hotel attack that killed 23 people at the end of October.

Last Friday, United States forces carried out airstrikes against an Islamic State-affiliated Shabab splinter group, operating in the central Somali region of Puntland. It was the first United States strike against the Islamic State in the country.

The United States Mission in Somalia the next day directed non-essential personnel to leave Mogadishu indefinitely, citing a specific threat against Americans in the city.


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