10 al-Shabab militants killed in latest US airstrikes in Somalia


Al-Shabab fighters march with their weapons during military exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 17, 2011. [AP Photo]

The U.S. military says it has conducted three new airstrikes against al-Shabab fighters in Somalia, killing 10 militants overnight.

The “collective self-defense” airstrikes were carried out in support of the Somali National Army who were engaged by al-Shabab, the U.S. Africa Command known as AFRICOM said in statement.

AFRICOM said the strikes took place at the request of the Federal Government of Somalia, in a remote area near Afmadow town in the Lower Juba region, approximately 105 kilometers (65 miles) north of Kismayo.

“Working with the Somali  National Army, U.S. Africa Command’s initial assessment is that the U.S. airstrike killed 10 al-Shabaab terrorists and that no civilians were injured or killed,” the statement read.

AFRICOM said it 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 said.

This brings the number of airstrikes carried out by the U.S. in Somalia this year to 13.

Earlier the Somali government also reported three operations conducted by Somali forces in support of “international partners” that took place near Afmadow. A statement by the Ministry of Information put the number of militants killed in the three operations at over 40.

Meanwhile, Somali government troops supported by Jubaland regional security forces have entered the al-Shabab-controlled town of Xagar in the Lower Juba region, Sunday.

Xagar is 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Buale, the capital of Jubaland state, which has been controlled by al-Shabab for more than 15 years. Buale is also the regional capital of Middle Juba, the only region entirely controlled by al-Shabab. It is unclear if the troops will establish a regular base in Xagar or advance to Buale.