U.S. troops in Somalia came under attack for a second time in two weeks on Friday and carried out an airstrike against al-Shabaab about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of Kismayo in Lower Juba Province, U.S. Africa Command said.
“The U.S. airstrike was conducted against militants after U.S. and partner forces came under attack. We currently assess eighteen (18) terrorists were killed in the strike,” Africom said in a Saturday, September 22 press release.
“Two (2) other terrorists were killed by Somali forces with small arms fire during the engagement.”
The airstrike was conducted after Shabaab militants “were observed maneuvering on a combined patrol of Somali National Security Forces and U.S. forces,” Nate Herring, a spokesperson for U.S. Africa Command, told The Defense Post.
“In self-defense, the U.S. conducted an airstrike and used indirect fire. No partner force members or U.S. service members were injured or killed during this engagement.”
Somali forces killed two additional militants, Herring said.
The incident is the second time in 10 days that American forces in Somalia have been attacked by the al-Qaeda affiliated Shabaab militants. On September 11, Africom caried out an airstrike near Mogadishu after a Somali soldier was killed and two others injured in a Shabaab attack targeting U.S. and partner troops.
No U.S. personnel were killed or injured in that incident.
Al-Shabaab is fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government in Mogadishu, but has also carried out attacks in neighboring Kenya, which has deployed troops as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia.
Africom works with AMISOM on both advise-and-assist missions as well as air support missions to target al-Shabaab’s forces, but has drawn controversy from strikes that have killed civilians.