The Pentagon’s Africa Command said on Tuesday that it had carried out the deadliest attack against the Islamist extremist group Shabab in nearly a year, killing about 60 fighters in central Somalia.
The strike took place Friday in the vicinity of Harardhere, about 300 miles northeast of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, the military said in a statement. Africa Command officials offered no other details except to say it did not kill or injure any civilians, suggesting the militants were in a camp or massing for an attack.
The strike came after a recent spate of attacks that the Shabab have conducted against Somali security forces and their American advisers across the country.
On Sept. 21, Shabab fighters attacked American and Somalia troops 30 miles northwest of Kismayo. Ten days earlier, militants struck Somalia and American forces in Mubarak, in central Somalia, killing one Somali soldier.
“These sustained attacks demonstrate that Shabab retains the ability to launch conventional offensives, in addition to its terrorist attack capability,” said Bill Roggio, editor of FDD’s Long War Journal, a website run by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that tracks military strikes against militant groups.
In its statement, the Africa Command said last week’s strike was the deadliest against the Shabab since an airstrike against a Shabab camp northwest of Mogadishu on Nov. 21 killed about 100 militants.
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In 2017, the military carried out 35 airstrikes in Somalia — 31 against Shabab fighters and four against Islamic State militants, according to Mr. Roggio.
The attacks by the Shabab, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in East Africa, underscore the resilience of regional arms of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in places like Yemen, Libya, West Africa and Afghanistan.