U.S. forces killed an estimated 52 members of the militant Islamic terrorist group al Shabab in airstrikes in Jilib, Somalia, on Saturday, U.S. Africa Command reported.
Al Shabab, an organization linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for an attack on a Nairobi hotel in Kenya Wednesday that left 14 dead, as well as seven attackers.
“U.S. Africa Command conducted the airstrike in response to an attack by a large group of al-Shabaab militants against Somali National Army Forces,” U.S. Africa Command, the branch of the military that coordinates with allies on the continent, said in a statement. The strike was part of a broader effort to prevent the terrorist group from “taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia.”
The action brings the total number of U.S. airstrikes this year to six, and the total number of suspected militants killed to 78. Last year, the U.S. reported that it killed 323 al Shabab militants in 41 separate strikes.
The al Shabab group is centered in southern and central Somalia and is believed to be responsible Somalia’s deadliest attack, a truck bomb in Mogadishu in 2017 that killed more than 500 people in 2017. Four years before that, in 2013, its militants targeted a shopping center in Westgate, Nairobi, killing 67 people. In addition to terrorism, the group steals humanitarian aid and extorts the local population, U.S. Africa Command said.