US military carries out airstrike on Islamic State in Somalia
BOSSASO, Puntland – U.S. military says it carried out an airstrike targeting Islamic State branch in Somalia, the first under the new command of the United States Africa Command [AFRICOM], Garowe Online reports.
In a statement, AFRICOM said the covert operation was conducted on Saturday, July 27 in the Golis Mountains in Puntland’s Bari region, killing one ISIS member who played a "key role in facilitation" for the terror group.
No civilians were killed or wounded, it added.
"Airstrikes like these remain an effective tool in the counter-terrorist campaign against ISIS and al-Shabab," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. William West, deputy director of operations, U.S.
There was no immediate comment from the Puntland government.
The United States military in Africa has dramatically stepped up airstrikes against al-Shabab and ISIS-affiliated militants in Somalia since President Donald Trump took office in early 2017.
Last April, U.S. airstrike killed the deputy leader of the Islamic State group in Somalia, Abdulhakim Dhoqob in a drone strike on a vehicle he was traveling in a remote area in Bari region, where the group has small bases.
Islamic State has gathered recruits in Puntland, although experts say the scale of its force is unclear and it remains a small player compared to the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab group that once controlled much of Somalia.
- IEDs seized in Bosaso operation -
Puntland Security forces seized explosive devices [IEDs] during an operation in the port city of Bosaso, the regional capital of Bari as Puntland prepares to mark the 21st anniversary of its establishment 1st August.
The IEDs displayed in a press conference held by the security forces’ commanders on Monday, July 29.
This was the latest signal that the terrorist groups [Al-Shabab and ISIL affiliate] in Bari region are still evolving in ways to cause harm to the Bosaso security, the economic hub of Puntland state of Somalia.
In late 2018, the U.S. Africa Command put the number of ISIS fighters in Somalia at between 75 and 250 – a small number compared to the estimated 3,000 to 7,000 Al Shebab members.