The latest airstrikes launched by the U.S. military against Islamic extremists in Somalia over the weekend have reportedly killed around 62 al-Shabab militants.
On Monday, the U.S. military confirmed the same by announcing that it launched out four air strikes on December 15 which killed 34 militants and two more airstrikes on Dec. 16 which killed 28 militants. The air attacks targeted Gandarshe, south of the capital, Mogadishu. The U.S military statement claimed that no civilians were injured or killed in the attacks.
It added that the airstrikes, which were carried out in close coordination with Somalia’s government, were conducted to put pressure and prevent al-Shabab from using remote areas to plot, direct, inspire and recruit for future attacks. The militant organization wants to overthrow Somalia’s government and turn the country into a strict Islamic state.
According to a Bloomberg report, citing a Somali intelligence official with knowledge of the matter, the weekend strikes targeted al-Shabab militants who were preparing a major attack on a Somali government military base in the Lower Shabelle region. The official said that the airstrikes hit both a military camp and battle vehicles in Gandarshe.
The US military has carried out at least 45 airstrikes so far this year against al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaida and Africa’s most active Islamic extremist group. In 2016, the U.S. launched 15 strikes in Somalia, while the number rose to 31 in 2017.
During the last few years, al-Shabab militants have repeatedly used bombs and guns to attack hotels and busy intersections in the capital city of Mogadishu, which is located roughly about 30 miles northeast of the area where the airstrikes took place during the weekend. Last year in the month of October, a massive truck bomb killed more than 500 people.
It is expected that there are between 3,000 and 7,000 al-Shabab militants and 250 Islamic State group members in Somalia currently.