U.S. airstrikes killed 52 radical Islamist terrorists in Somalia over the weekend in its deadliest airstrike on the terror group in months.
The militants belonged to the jihadist group al-Shabaab, which the Trump administration has been hammering with airstrikes over the last year. The strike comes not even a week after the terrorist group claimed responsibility for a hotel bombing in Kenya that killed more than a dozen.
U.S. airstrikes take out 52 Somalian jihadis
U.S. Africa Command, which oversees military operations on the continent, reported the successful strike Saturday. The airstrike was a response to an attack the group waged on a Somalian military base earlier that day.
The jihadis had driven a car strapped with bombs on a suicide mission into the base near Jilib, which is 230 miles southwest of the Somalian capital of Mogadishu. Pictures from the aftermath of the strike showed a torched car and burned human bodies, according to Reuters.
The terror group claimed to have killed 42 soldiers in the attack, but the Somalian military said at least 8 soldiers were killed when the terror group wrested control of the base and looted it. The Somalian military soon retook control, and the attack was quickly answered in force with the deadly airstrike near Jilib in the Middle Juba region.
No civilians were killed, according to U.S. Africa Command.
“U.S. Africa Command conducted the airstrike in response to an attack by a large group of al-Shabaab militants against Somali National Army Forces,” Africa command said, adding that the attack had the goal of “preventing al-Shabaab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia.”
Al-Qaida linked group loses control
Al-Shabaab is linked with al-Qaida. Militants in the group killed at least 21 civilians in the hotel bombing in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday.
A coalition of African nations including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia have troops in Somalia fighting against the terror group. In fact, Ethiopian military convoy repulsed an al-Shabaab attack on Friday.
The Trump administration has led an aggressive campaign against the terror group after loosening military rules on using airstrikes against terror groups in Somalia as well as Iraq and Syria, where an aggressive bombing campaign has been credited with defeating the caliphate. The strike is the sixth against al-Shabaab this year and brings the total number of killed militants this year to 78, including an October airstrike that killed 60 militants.
The U.S. killed 323 jihadis in 41 strikes last year.
The terror group has lost control of Somalian territory since being pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 by African military, but it retains a presence in central and southern Somalia, from which it carries out suicide bombings and other attacks.
It has been behind the deadliest terror attacks in the country’s history, including a truck bombing at the capital in 2017 that killed 500 people, and a mall shooting in Kenya that left 67 dead in 2013.