US carries out 1st airstrikes against ISIS in Somalia
The U.S. military for the first time has conducted two airstrikes against Islamic State group fighters in Somalia, where the extremists are a growing presence in a country long threatened by the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab.
The U.S. Africa Command said the two drone strikes killed “several terrorists” in northeastern Somalia on Friday. The strikes were carried out in coordination with Somalia’s government, the statement said.
Local officials confirmed the airstrikes. At least six missiles struck in Buqa, a remote mountainous village roughly 37 miles north of Qandala town in the northern state of Puntland, a Somali security official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The strikes sent terrified nomadic villagers and their animals fleeing, said Qandala’s mayor, Jama Mohamed.
The U.S. has carried out well over a dozen drone strikes against al-Shabab this year after the Trump administration approved expanded efforts against the group. Al-Shabab was blamed for carrying out Somalia’s deadliest attack last month, a massive truck bombing in the capital, Mogadishu, that killed more than 350 people. Somalia’s president has vowed a “state of war,” with neighbors sending thousands of troops to help the local military.
But ISIS-linked fighters who have split from the Somalia-based al-Shabab in the past couple of years pose a growing threat, notably in a part of the country far from al-Shabab’s strongholds in the south.