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US airstrike kills Al Qaeda-linked terrorist in Somalia, destroys terrorist checkpoint

An MQ-9 Reaper at Creech Air Force Base, NV., June 25, 2015. (Senior Airman Cory D. Payne/U.S. Air Force)
July 09, 2020

A U.S. airstrike on Thursday killed at least one terrorist of the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab terror group and destroyed a checkpoint set up by the group near Hantiwadaag, Somalia.

The U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM), disclosed the strike in an emailed statement to American Military News on Thursday. AFRICOM said the terror group had used the checkpoint to extort travelers and restrict people moving around the area of the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

“Al-Shabaab are using checkpoints to threaten, extort and restrict the movement of innocent people in Mogadishu and Lower Shabelle region,” U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, the director of operations for AFRICOM said following the strike.  “Al-Shabaab’s actions continue to impede much needed economic development and progress.”

AFRICOM assessed no civilians were injured or killed as a result of the strike and said the strike was conducted with the coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.

In May, an AFRICOM strike killed two members of the Somalia-based terror group.

AFRICOM has carried out numerous strikes against Al Shabaab fighters throughout 2020, eliminating dozens of the terror group’s militants. As of March, AFRICOM had carried out at least 19 strikes in 2020 targeting Al Shabaab. Those U.S. forces in Africa set a record for airstrikes in 2019, having conducted more than 60 airstrikes in Somalia over the year. They previously conducted 47 airstrikes in 2018 and 35 in 2017.

“U.S. Africa Command and our international partners recognize that stability in Somalia will not be achieved through purely military means. It requires providing programs and opportunity for the Somali people,” AFRICOM said in its statement Thursday. “Together and at the request of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command works to improve security conditions in Somalia in order to enhance governance and economic development. U.S. partnership with Somalia also helps prevent al-Shabaab’s ambitions to expand their reach, plot attacks, and further export violence.”

“U.S. Africa Command continues to work with its Somali partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States,” AFRICOM added.