U.S. Military Says Airstrike Killed 52 Militants in Somalia

NAIROBI (Reuters) – A U.S. air strike killed 52 militants in Somalia’s Middle Juba region on Saturday, its Africa Command said.

The strike was in response to an attack on a Somali military base near Jilib, 370 km (230 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, by a large group of al Shabaab militants, a statement from the Africa Command said.

Pictures taken at the scene after the strike and seen by Reuters showed a large burnt-out flatbed truck surrounded by charred bodies.

Other pictures appeared to show a car bomb rigged with explosives that had not detonated at the Bar Sanguni forward operating base, which had come under al Shabaab attack.

The action by U.S. forces came four days after a raid on a Nairobi hotel and office compound, claimed by al Shabaab, in which at least 21 people were killed. It was not clear if there was any link between the air strike and events in Kenya.

The U.S. military said no civilians were believed to have been killed or injured in Saturday’s strike.

Al Shabaab has lost control of most of Somalia’s cities and towns since African Union peacekeepers supporting Somali troops pushed the insurgency out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011.

But it retains a strong presence in parts of the south and center, and the U.S. military has stepped up air strikes against the Islamist fighters in Somalia over the last year.

Reporting by Alexandra Zavis and Katharine Houreld; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and David Holmes

Source: Reuters