US forces have carried out three strikes in the past two days in Somalia against both the Al-Qaeda affiliated Shabaab group and Islamic State group jihadists, killing several, the military announced on Sunday.
The first operation, launched on Saturday at 1330 GMT, took place near Gaduud, about 400 kilometres southwest of the capital Mogadishu, killing one Shabaab militant, according to a US Africa Command (AFRICOM) statement.
“Prior to this strike, US forces observed the Shabaab combatant participating in attacks on a US and Somali convoy,” the statement said.
Then in the first hour of Sunday, a strike targeted Shabaab fighters in the Lower Shabelle region, some 64 kilometres west of Mogadishu. A second strike, some nine hours later, targeted IS militants in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in the country’s north.
The AFRICOM statement said “several terrorists” were killed.
“US forces will continue to use all authorised and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats,” wherever they may be found, the statement said.
Earlier this month, the United States struck IS targets in Somalia for the first time, eight months after US President Donald Trump authorised the Pentagon to undertake anti-terrorist operations — by air or on land — in support of the fragile Somali government.
Al-Shabaab has been trying since 2007 to overthrow that government, which has the support of the international community.
The group proclaimed its allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2010, a step formally accepted by Al-Qaeda two years later. However in recent years, some Shabaab members have defected to IS.
In August 2016, the US State Department placed Abdul Qadir Mumin, leader of IS’s Somali affiliate, on a list of international terrorists.