Updated December 28
The United States carried out an air strike on Christmas Eve against al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab that left 13 dead, according to a statement released Wednesday.
“In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab militants on the morning of Dec. 24, 2017, in southern Somalia, killing 13 terrorists,” read the statement from the U.S. Africa Command (Africom).
— US AFRICOM (@USAfricaCommand) December 27, 2017
The United States has stepped up its operations in Somalia in recent weeks, with frequent strikes against Shabaab and Abnaa ul-Calipha, Islamic State’s affiliate in Somalia.
On December 15, an airstrike 30 miles northwest of Kismayo killed eight people.Three days earlier, on December 12, a U.S. airstrike targeted an al-Shabaab car bomb near Mubarak, 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Mogadishu. 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.
Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab has been fighting to overthrow successive internationally backed governments in Mogadishu since 2007 and frequently deploys car and truck bombs against military, government and civilian targets.
Al-Shabaab lost its foothold in Mogadishu in 2011 but has continued its fight and still controls vast rural areas.
The group is widely blamed for the country’s worst ever bombing which in October left 512 dead.
With reporting from AFP