US military targets Al-Shabaab in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The US Africa Command has confirmed the latest airstrike targeting Al-Shabaab militants in Central Somalia, a statement released on Thursday confirmed, with the American team conceding that it pulled the drone strike upon the request by the federal government of Somalia, whose soldiers have been pursuing Al-Shabaab.
According to the statement, the strike occurred in a remote area approximately near Bacadweyne, Somalia which is approximately 460 km northwest of Mogadishu. The US said five Al-Shabaab fighters were instantly killed following the latest drone strike in the country.
"Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed," the statement noted.
"Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has publicly stated that economic reform, social and political reconciliation, and religious tolerance are key pillars of his strategy to mobilize society against international terrorists," added the statement.
Military actions, the US said, are just one part of the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to comprehensively address their security challenges. The airstrike comes when Somalia announced the killing of over 70 militants in the village on Wednesday and an additional 200 in HirShabelle on Thursday.
The U.S. is one of several countries providing humanitarian aid, stabilization efforts, economic development, and military assistance to the Federal Government of Somalia in its ongoing campaign.
U.S. Africa Command is the defense arm of the U.S. whole-of-government approach with African partners -- diplomacy, development, and defense. This three-pronged, or “3D” approach brings together multiple agencies from within the U.S. government to increase cooperation and support for partner-led, U.S.-enabled solutions to shared security challenges, including violent extremism or terrorism.
US Africa Command added that Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command's forces train, advise, and assist partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world.
"U.S. Africa Command and partner forces will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security," the statement further read.
"The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command will continue to take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains vital to the command's operations to promote greater security for all Africans."
This comes after a United Nations report published this week noted that Al-Shabaab revenues have increased from $100 million annually to $150 million even with robust measures by the government to block the channels of collection. Somalia has already blocked 250 bank accounts and 70 mobile money transfer firms linked to Al-Shabaab activities.
Al-Shabaab has been on the receiving end for the last seven months following joint military efforts led by the Somalia National Army on all fronts, which have left hundreds of the militants dead. Additionally, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has incorporated religious scholars in his bid to counter the insurgents ideologically.