A U.S. airstrike on Saturday killed at least 12 al Shabaab fighters in Somalia.
The strike occurred in a remote area approximately 45 km southwest of Hobyo, Somalia and about 472 km northeast of Mogadishu, the U.S.-Africa Command said in a statement on Sunday.
“The initial assessment is the strike killed 12 al Shabaab fighters. Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed,” AFRICOM said.
It added that the ‘self-defense’ strike was conducted at the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army.
“U.S. Africa Command provides support to the Somali government to address terrorist threats, but we are only part of the U.S. efforts there,” said Gen. Michael Langley, AFRICOM commander. “Our Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development colleagues have programs that help build resilience through education and training; develop agricultural diversity; improve markets and trade; and strengthen democracy and good governance.”
AFRICOM wrote, “Rooting out extremism requires intervention beyond traditional military means.
“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 terrorist. Military actions are only a part of the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to comprehensively address their security challenges.
“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 their 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.
“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 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 Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command will continue to take great measures to prevent civilian casualties.
“Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans.”