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Friday 19 October 2018

US drone strike targets al-Shabab after Somalia attack

Hundreds of people were killed in the blast on Saturday (AP)
Hundreds of people were killed in the blast on Saturday (AP)

The US military has carried out a drone strike against al-Shabab in Somalia, shortly after the extremist group was blamed for the country's deadliest terror attack.

The US Africa Command said the strike took place on Monday, about 35 miles south-west of the capital, Mogadishu. The results are still being assessed.

The strike comes after Saturday's truck bombing in Mogadishu, which killed more than 300 people and wounded around 400 others.

The US has carried out several drone strikes in the Horn of Africa nation since President Donald Trump approved expanded military operations against the group early this year.

Al-Shabab has not commented on the truck bombing, which Somali intelligence officials said was meant to target Mogadishu's heavily fortified international airport. Several countries have embassies there.

Meanwhile, thousands of Somalis have gathered at the site of the truck bombing in the capital to mourn the dead and to pray.

"This pain will last for years," said a sheikh leading the prayers, with long lines of mourners standing in front of flattened or badly damaged buildings.

The US has carried out at least 19 drone strikes in Somalia since January, according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks US drone strikes in a number of countries.

Earlier this week, a Pentagon spokesman said the United States has about 400 troops in Somalia and "we're not going to speculate" about sending more.

In April, the US announced it was sending dozens of regular troops to Somalia in the largest such deployment to the country in roughly two decades.

The US said it was for logistics training of Somalia's army. At the time, the US said about 40 troops were taking part.

Weeks later, a US service member was killed during an operation against al-Shabab.


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