Monday 16 July 2018

'Several terrorists killed' as US launches first air strikes on IS in Somalia

The Somali capital Mogadishu was hit by a huge terror attack last month (AP)
The Somali capital Mogadishu was hit by a huge terror attack last month (AP)

Abdi Guled and Lolita Baldur

The US military has for the first time conducted air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Somalia, where the group is a growing presence in a country long threatened by the al Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab.

The US Africa Command said two drone strikes killed "several terrorists" in north-eastern Somalia, with the first around midnight local time and the second later on Friday morning.

The US said the strikes were carried out in co-ordination with Somalia's government.

Local officials confirmed the strikes. At least six missiles struck in Buqa, a remote mountainous village about 35 miles north of Qandala town in the northern state of Puntland, a Somali security official said.

The air strike may have targeted senior leaders of the group, the official said.

The mayor of Qandala, Jama Mohamed, said the strikes sent terrified nomadic villagers and their animals fleeing.

The US military has carried out more than a dozen drone strikes against al-Shabab extremists this year after the Trump administration approved expanded efforts against the group.

Al-Shabab has been blamed for carrying out Somalia's deadliest attack last month, a massive truck bombing in the capital, Mogadishu, that killed more than 350 people.

Somalia's president has vowed a "state of war", with neighbours sending in thousands of troops to help the local military and an African Union force.

But IS-linked fighters who have split from the Somalia-based al-Shabab pose a growing threat in Puntland.

In May, IS claimed a deadly bombing in Puntland - said to be the first time the extremist group had claimed an attack in the Horn of Africa nation.

Police said a suicide bomber detonated at a military checkpoint in the commercial hub of Bossaso, killing at least four people.

Press Association

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