The Somali government conducted an air strike on a suspected al-Shabaab militant in the country’s south in cooperation with the United States military, Somalia’s federal government said on Monday.
“On the evening of 16 December 2019, the Federal Government of Somalia in coordination with U.S. Africa Command, conducted an air strike against an al-Shabaab operative near Dujumma, Somalia,” a Somali government source said in a statement to The Defense Post.
“It is assessed that one al-Shabaab operative was killed in the airstrike. Also at this time, it has been assessed that no civilians have been killed or injured.”
AFRICOM carried out a drone strike against a suspected senior Shabaab leader in the same area last week.
The U.S. has about 500 troops in Somalia.
U.S. forces use the Baledogle (or Ballidoogle) airfield, in the Wanlawayn district roughly 95 km (60 miles) northwest of the capital Mogadishu, to launch drone strikes on al-Shabaab militants and to train Somali commandoes for counter-terrorism missions.
Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government. The army, which largely relies on African Union Mission in Somalia forces for military support, is regularly targeted.
The Shabaab was routed from Mogadishu in 2011 by the 22,000-strong AMISOM mission, and has had to abandon most of its strongholds, but it still controls vast rural areas and remains the key threat to peace in Somalia and carries out attacks in neighboring Kenya.
U.S. strikes in Somalia surged after President Donald Trump declared southern Somalia an “area of active hostilities” in April 2017, according to rights group Amnesty International.
Shabaab militants attacked the U.S. base at Baledogle and European troops based nearby with vehicle bombs in September.