WASHINGTON — The US military launched airstrikes against the Al-Shabaab militant group in Somalia on Sunday, US Africa Command said, killing four terrorists.
The strikes came one day after Somalia’s deadliest attack in two years, when a car bomb killed at least 79 people in a busy area of Mogadishu.
“In coordination with the federal government of Somalia, US Africa Command conducted three airstrikes in two locations targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Qunyo Barrow and Caliyoow Barrow, Somalia, respectively, December 29,” AFRICOM said in a statement.
It said two strikes had killed two militants and destroyed two vehicles in Qunyo Barrow while a separate strike killed another two in Caliyoow Barrow.
US strikes in Somalia surged after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “area of active hostilities”. The rate of air strikes has risen sharply this year, and in an April statement AFRICOM said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 air strikes in Somalia since April 2017.
Saturday’s attack in Mogadishu has not been claimed, but the city is regularly hit by car bombings and attacks waged by Al-Shabaab Islamist militants allied to Al-Qaeda.
Al-Shabaab was forced out of the Somali capital in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside.
The group often strikes the most prominent hotels and restaurants, and has also staged attacks in neighboring Kenya.
Five people including three civilians were killed earlier in December when the al-Shabaab jihadists stormed SYL, a hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu popular with politicians, army officers and diplomats.
“Since al-Shabaab’s first external attack in 2010, the group has ruthlessly killed hundreds,” said US Army Major General William Gayler, AFRICOM’s director of operations.
“They have attacked and killed African partners, allies, and fellow Americans.”