US-trained special forces kill dozens of militants in southern Somalia
KISMAYO, Somalia - The Somali Special Forces drawn from the elite Danab on Tuesday killed 35 militants in Lower Jubba, a military official has confirmed, Garowe Online reports.
Tuesday's operation was also backed by international partners among them the elite US troops, who have been active in the fight against Al-Shabaab, the official said.
Hassan Mohamad Aden, commander of the Danab Forces in Jubbaland State, said a joint operation was conducted at Lafta Anole neighborhood.
Military troops raided the hideouts of the militants killing the militants after a tip-off from a section of the locals, Aden said.
Gunfight leaves 35 dead
"Following a tip of from the residents, our forces launched an attack in the area killing 35 al-Shabab militants including senior members," he noted.
A heavy gunfight ensued between the militants and the Special Forces, causing panic and confusion among residents, Xinhua news agency reported.
Jubaland has been a major battleground for the militants against the UN-backed troops and the Somali National Army in recent years.
"Al-Shabab extremists in the village were attacked by government forces," said Safi Bilan, a resident.
"There was also airstrike which caused many casualties," he said without mentioning whether the government forces suffered any losses.
Al-Shabaab suffers a series of casualties
Al-Shabaab militants have been causing havoc in Somalia and her neighbors with an aim of toppling the UN-backed federal government
Tuesday's operation came barely four days after Somali special forces killed 30 al-Shabab militants in the country's southern region of Lower Shabelle.
Early this year, the US military with the aid of Danab, launched three airstrikes in central Somalia killing four suspected Al-Shabaab militants, AFRICOM said.
Last year alone, the US conducted over 110 airstrikes in Central and Southern Somalia, killing over 800 militants, AFRICOM confirmed.
Militants in control of rural areas
Al-Shabab holds large swathes of rural areas, conducting ambushes against government forces in the Southern part of the country, Xinhua reports.
While the security forces have managed to neutralize the Al-Qaida associated group, it has managed to execute large scale attacks within East Africa.
On December 28th, the group killed over 90 people near Afgoye junction, claiming that "our target was the Turkish convoy and police officers".
The militants apologized to the civilians in the attack that raised questions about the safety of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
The US keen to defeat Al-Shabaab
Across the border, the group also attacked a US Naval Base in Kenya, killing three US citizens besides wounding two.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said "we shall ensure the remaining culprits are brought to justice. We shall crush the Al-Shabaab".
Several elite forces have since been deployed to the base in Kenya, which aids in counterterrorism missions, AFRICOM said.
The East Africa Response Force (EARF) is now working with Kenya Defense Forces and SNA to minimize the Al-Shabaab threat, Gen Stephen Townsend added.
The role of Danaab forces
For months now, Danab forces have managed to kill dozens of militants ahead of a full takeover from foreign troops in Somalia.
Last year, the group played a pivotal role in thwarting Al-Shabaab raid at the US's Ballidogle army base, killing eleven militants in the process.
Besides executing complex and sophisticated operations, the US-trained forces also offer VIP security to the country's leadership.
Somalia is struggling to enhance stability and reconciliation after decades of civil wars and threats from insurgents, following the death of Siad Barre.