JOHANNESBURG — A U.S. military airstrike has killed 18 al-Shabab extremists after U.S. and local forces on the ground came under attack in southern Somalia, the U.S. Africa Command said Saturday.
No U.S. or Somali forces were killed or injured in the attack, an AFRICOM spokesman, Nate Herring, told The Associated Press. The airstrike was carried out Friday in self-defense after extremists were “observed maneuvering on a combined patrol,” while the U.S. also responded with “indirect fire,” the spokesman said.
The confrontation occurred about 31 miles northwest of the port city of Kismayo, the U.S. Africa Command statement said. Two other al-Shabab extremists were killed by Somali forces “with small arms fire during the engagement,” it said.
The operation was Somali-led, the AFRICOM spokesman said. There was no immediate comment from Somali authorities.
Al-Shabab fighters stand in formation with their weapons during military exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia on Feb. 17, 2011.
Al-Shabab fighters stand in formation with their weapons during military exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia on Feb. 17, 2011.Mohamed Sheikh Nor / AP, file
The U.S. has carried out more than 20 airstrikes this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa.
U.S. military involvement in Somalia has grown since President Donald Trump early in his term approved expanded operations against al-Shabab. Dozens of drone strikes followed. Late last year the military also carried out its first airstrike against a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State in northern Somalia.
Since the expanded operations, two U.S. military personnel have been killed in Somalia.
Source: NBC News.com