Somalia: US air strike 'kills 60 al-Shabab fighters'

US Air Force F-15 fighter jet

A us military airstrike in central Somalia this weekend killed 60 Al Shabab fighters, the largest airstrike targeting the al-Qaeda affiliated terror group in more than a year, officials said Tuesday.

In a statement, the US military said a strike last week near Harardere, Somalia, killed "approximately sixty terrorists".

"This precision airstrike was the largest airstrike against al-Shabaab since November 21, 2017, when USA forces conducted an airstrike against an al-Shabaab camp killing approximately 100 terrorists".

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The US is reported to have carried out more than 25 airstrikes in 2018 only, including drone strikes against al-Shabaab which is linked to al Qaeda. The statement gave no further details about what was targeted, and a U.S. military spokesman said it was not a camp.

At least five have occurred in the last month.

The surge in activity came after President Donald Trump past year loosened constraints on the United States military in Somalia, allowing commanders to take action against suspected militants when they judge it is needed, without seeking specific White House approval.

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A year ago there were 31 such attacks and 15 in 2016, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based research institute.

The airstrike came just days before the one-year anniversary of al-Shabaab's deadliest attack - a truck bombing in Somalia's capital that killed more than 500 people.

US President Donald Trump expanded military operations against al-Shabab in March 2017. It also remains a threat in parts of neighboring Kenya.

Some observers have questioned the effectiveness of airstrikes by the USA and Kenya and raised concerns about civilians being killed. At least two attacks involved United States aircraft.

The U.S. Africa Command spokesman said the airstrike had no link to the anniversary.

It gave no further details.

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