WASHINGTON • The Pentagon's Africa Command has said that it had carried out the deadliest attack against extremist group Al-Shabab in nearly a year, killing about 60 fighters in central Somalia.
The strike took place on Friday in the vicinity of Harardhere, about 480km north-east of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, the military said in a statement on Tuesday. Africa Command officials offered no other details except to say it did not kill or injure any civilians, suggesting the militants were in a camp or massing for an attack.
The strike came after a recent spate of attacks that Al-Shabab has conducted against Somali security forces and their US advisers across the country.
On Sept 21, Al-Shabab fighters attacked US and Somalia troops north-west of Kismayo.
Ten days earlier, militants struck Somalia and US forces in Mubarak, in central Somalia, killing one Somali soldier.
"These sustained attacks demonstrate that Shabab retains the ability to launch conventional offensives, in addition to its terrorist attack capability," said Mr Bill Roggio, editor of FDD's Long War Journal, run by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that tracks military strikes against militant groups.
In its statement, the Africa Command said last week's strike was the deadliest against Al-Shabab since an airstrike against an Al-Shabab camp north-west of Mogadishu on Nov 21 killed about 100 militants.
So far this year in Somalia, the United States has conducted 27 strikes, including by drone, mostly against small numbers of Al-Shabab fighters. That is on pace to surpass last year's attacks against the group.
Last year, the military carried out 35 airstrikes in Somalia - 31 against Al-Shabab fighters and four against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, according to Mr Roggio. The attacks by Al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda's affiliate in East Africa, underscore the resilience of regional arms of Al-Qaeda and ISIS in places like Yemen, Libya, West Africa and Afghanistan.