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US drone strike targets Al Shabaab in Somalia

Note: This story was updated on December 12 at 1635 GMT after Africom published its statement.


A U.S. drone strike in Somalia targeted al-Shabaab militants near the capital Mogadishu, according to U.S. Africa Command.

The Associated Press cited Africa Command as saying the Tuesday, December 12 strike removed an “imminent threat to the people of Mogadishu.” The strike was carried out near the village of Mubarak, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Mogadishu.

Africom said later in a public statement: “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against an al-Shabaab vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in the early morning hours of Dec. 12, approximately 65 kilometers southwest of the capital, Mogadishu.”

Africom did not say how many suspected militants were killed, but said no civilians had died.

Local journalists on Tuesday posted photos showing a damaged minibus that was apparently targeted in the strike. Hussein Mohamed, who covers Somalia and the region, reported the bus was carrying bananas when it was struck by a suspected U.S. air munition. The casualties were unknown, he added.

Voice of America journalist Harun Maruf said it was unclear who was targeted in the operation, but the village is near Barire, an area controlled by al-Shabaab.

If confirmed, the drone strike would be America’s latest in an increasing number of airstrikes against the al-Qaeda affiliate and Abnaa ul-Calipha, Islamic State in Somalia. On November 27, Africom targeted Abnaa ul-Calipha in northeastern Somalia. A week earlier, the command said an airstrike killed more than 100 al-Shabaab militants 125 miles northwest of Mogadishu. On November 15, Africom said a drone strike about 60 miles north Mogadishu killed “several” al-Shabaab militants. Four days earlier, Africom said it struck al-Shabaab in the Bay region, about 100 miles west of Mogadishu.

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