The U.S. is focusing on the spread of Islamic terrorism in Northern Africa and has begun targeting groups in Somalia. The US military said it has killed 62 fighters from the terrorist group al-Shabab in six air strikes in Somalia.
US military’s Africa Command said the "precision airstrikes" were conducted in collaboration with Somalia's government. Four strikes near the town of Gandarshe on Saturday killed 34 militants, and two strikes on Sunday killed 28, the US military said.
The U.S. strikes were intended to "degrade" al-Shabab's forces, according to the military, which adds that it wants to put pressure on the terrorist group and prevent it from using "safe havens" in remote areas.
"In particular, the group uses portions of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radical terrorists," U.S. Africa Command said in a statement about the strikes.
— US AFRICOM (@USAfricaCommand) December 17, 2018
The Al-Shabab group has links to the Middle-eastern terrorist outfit Al-Qaeda.
These were the deadliest air raids carried out by the US Africa Command in Somalia since November 2017 when the U.S. said it had killed over 100 militants belonging to the terrorist outfit.
The US has increased its air raids as compared to 2017. The U.S. State Department, in its most recent report on terrorism, described Somalia as a "terrorist safe haven" and said al-Shabab remained a threat, despite suffering setbacks.
The group retains control over large parts of the country, and the ability to carry out high-profile attacks using suicide bombers, explosive devices, mortars and small arms, the report added.