Somalia: US conducts Airstrike against ISIL in Puntland

Puntland
ByReuters
Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin [center], the leader of ISIL-affiliated militants in Somalia's Puntland

BOSASO, Puntland - The U.S. military said on Monday it had carried out an air strike against Islamic State militants in northeast Somalia, killing one person.

Islamic State has been gathering recruits in the region, although experts say the scale of its force is unclear and it remains a small player compared to the al Shabaab group.

"In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against ISIS, in northeastern Somalia on Nov. 27, killing one terrorist," the U.S. Africa Command said in a statement.

Colonel Ali Abdi, a military officer in an area near the town of Qandala in the semi-autonomous Puntland region, said the strike took place in hills near the town.

"We heard a huge crash of air strike in the hilly areas of Dasaan remote area behind Qandala town this afternoon, " Abdi told Reuters from Dasaan.

"After the strike, the IS militants ran away from there. We went to the scene and saw pieces of a dead body."

Last month, a group loyal to Islamic State seized a small port town in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region, the first town it has taken since emerging a year ago.

The group, which refers to itself simply as Islamic State, is a rival to the larger al Shabaab force, which is linked to Islamic State’s rival al Qaeda and once controlled much of Somalia.

Early this month, the U.S. military carried out its first air strike against Islamic State militants, killing several.

Last week, Somalia's government said it had requested a U.S. air strike that killed scores of suspected militants to help pave the way for an upcoming ground offensive against al Shabaab.

Earlier this year, the White House granted the U.S. military broader authority to carry out strikes in Somalia against al Shabaab.