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US airstrikes kill terrorist car-bomb makers in Somalia linked to Al Qaeda

MQ-9 Reaper during Exercise Northern Strike 2019. (Arizona Air National Guard/Released)
December 10, 2020

U.S. forces in Africa carried out two airstrikes in Somalia on Thursday, killing bombmakers working with the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab terror group.

In a statement to American Military News, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said, “The initial assessment indicates the strike killed terrorists who were known to play important roles in producing explosives for al-Shabaab, to include vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs).” AFRICOM did not specify how many terrorists were killed in the strikes.

AFRICOM carried out the strike in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia. The strikes targeted locations in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia.

Although AFRICOM offered only an initial assessment of the impact of the airstrikes, they assessed no civilians were injured or killed in the strikes.

AFRICOM said the VBIEDs, or car bombs, have been used to primarily target civilians in their attacks and, since 2018, the group has conducted an estimated 45 VBIED attacks in the Somali capital of Mogadishu alone, resulting in the deaths of over 400 civilians, security forces and government officials.

The latest strike comes days after President Donald Trump ordered most of the approximately 700 U.S. troops in Somalia to leave the country by the early part of 2021.

“This strike should demonstrate to any enemy that we stand by our partners and will vigorously defend both ourselves and our partners during this repositioning and future operations,” U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, the commander of Joint Task Force – Quartz, said in remarks accompanying the AFRICOM statement. “We will continue to maintain strong force protection and strike those who seek to harm us or our partners.”

U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of AFRICOM said, “We will continue to apply pressure to the al-Shabaab network. They continue to undermine Somali security, and need to be contained and degraded.”

Townsend added, “Al-Shabaab remains a dangerous franchise of al-Qaeda. We continue to monitor the threat and support our partners through training and military and diplomatic engagement. This mission illustrates our continuing commitment to eradicating this threat and supporting our Somali partners in the region. We’re repositioning, but we will maintain the ability to strike this enemy.”

AFRICOM has conducted numerous strikes in Somalia in 2020. AFRICOM has previously targeted high-ranking members of the terror group, as well as its key bomb makers.

U.S. ground forces have also taken part in the efforts to counter Al-Shabaab. One U.S. service member was injured when an Al-Shabaab vehicle being used as a VBIED and mortar fire platform attacked U.S. troops working alongside Somali partner forces.

One former U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 member turned CIA officer, Michael Goodboe, was reportedly killed in a recent improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Somalia.