U.S. strike in Somalia kills 52 extremists
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) — The U.S. military on Saturday said it had carried out its deadliest airstrike in Somalia in months, killing 52 al-shabab extremists after a “large group” mounted an attack on Somali forces.
The U.S. Africa Command said the airstrike occurred near Jilib in Middle Juba region. There were no reports of Americans killed or wounded.
The U.S. statement did not say if any Somali forces were killed or wounded by the al-qaidalinked extremists. Alshabab via its Shahada news agency asserted that its attack on two Somali army bases killed at least 41 soldiers. It described the location as the Bar Sanjuni area near the port city of Kismayo.
A Somali intelligence officer said al-shabab had been amassing fighters for more than a week to launch a major attack against Somali and Kenyan forces in order to disrupt a planned offensive against the extremists. The officer said some 400 extremists, including foreign ones, had been prepared, including two suicide car bombers.
Al-shabab controls large parts of rural southern and central Somalia and continues to carry out suicide bombings and other attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere.
The Islamic extremist group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on a luxury hotel complex in the capital of neighboring Kenya Tuesday, the latest high-toll assault in retaliation for Kenya sending troops to Somalia to fight al-shabab.