An American airstrike on Thursday killed at least one terrorist of the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group in Somalia, officials said.
A checkpoint set up by the organization in Hantiwadaag was also destroyed in the strike.
“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 Africa Command, known as AFRICOM, said in a statement in confirming the airstrike. “Al-Shabaab’s actions continue to impede much needed economic development and progress.”
AFRICOM said there were no civilian casualties caused in the incident. It’s not clear if a drone was used to conduct the strike, as is often the case in the region.
The agency said it partnered with the Somali government to conduct the strike.
“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,” the military wrote.
In May, a U.S. military strike killed two members of al-Shabaab. Before that, in February, an al-Shabaab compound near Dujuuma was destroyed by AFRICOM, while wounding three terrorists and injuring no civilians.
“U.S. support to African-led counter-terrorism operations is crucial in East Africa,” Gregory Hadfield, the U.S. Africa Command’s deputy director of intelligence, said at the time. “China and Russia appear content to remain on the sidelines as our African partners, with U.S. support, fight extremism and pave the way to enhanced security and stability on the continent.”
The United States carries out regular airstrikes in Somalia in support of a weak, United Nations-backed government in Mogadishu, which has fought al-Shabaab for years.
“Al-Shabaab kills regularly and indiscriminately,” said Miguel Castellanos, U.S. Africa Command deputy director of operations after the strike.
Earlier this year in East Africa, three Americans were killed by the group during an attack at a Kenya Defense Force base in Manda Bay used by U.S. and Kenyan forces. Two Department of Defense personnel and one Army soldier were killed in the terrorist attack on Jan. 5, officials said.
According to the U.S. State Department’s assessment of Somalia, the country was left without a government from 1991 until the United States recognized the Federal Government of Somalia in 2017.
Isabel Van Brugen contributed to this report