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US Says 60 Militants Killed in Somalia Airstrike

The U.S. military says 60 al-Shabab militants were killed in Friday’s airstrike near the town of Harardhere in central Somalia.

A statement Tuesday from the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) says the strike was conducted in coordination with the government of Somalia.

“We currently assess this airstrike killed approximately 60 terrorists,” the statement read. It said the airstrike was the largest such attack against al-Shabab since November of last year, when another U.S. airstrike killed about 100 fighters of the Islamist militant group.

The Africa Command says there were no civilians killed or injured in the attack on Oct. 12.

Al-Shabab has yet to comment on the airstrike or reported fatalities.

A Somali official says the strike happened near the village of Jowle, about 20 kilometers southwest of Harardhere. The official, who did not want to be named, put the death toll at 117.

He says when the attack occurred, the militants were gathered at a camp and were planning to travel to the Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions, where villagers have put up resistance against al-Shabab.

The villagers, known as Ma’awisley, a reference to the sarong many of them wear, have been battling the militants because they are “fed up” with al-Shabab demands for money and the group’s recruitment of young boys as fighters.

Intermittent clashes have been taking place between Ma’awisley and al-Shabab since late last month in the two regions. Both sides have suffered casualties, and on Oct. 1, the leader of the Ma’awisley, Hibad Ali Dasar, was killed near the town of Adan Yabaal in Middle Shabelle.

The day after the death of Dasar, the chief of the Somali army, General Dahir Aden Indhoqarsho, expressed support for villagers standing up to al-Shabab.

The United States has been conducting airstrikes against al-Shabab in support of the Somali government. U.S. forces have carried out 27 airstrikes this year, and 33 in 2017.

The attacks have killed a number of top al-Shabab leaders, including the group’s former emir, Ahmed Abdi Godane, on Sept. 1, 2014.

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