US Airstrikes Kill 6 Al-Shabab Militants in Somalia

U.S. airstrikes on al-Shabab targets killed six people and wounded two more in the first week of March as U.S. Africa Command continues to ramp up its operations targeting the group in Somalia.

Three of the strikes—two on March 2 and a third on March 5—targeted al-Shabab militants near Qunyo Barrow, Somalia, in the country’s Middle Juba region.

A fourth strike targeted one of the terror group’s camps near Gandarshe, which is located about 33 miles south of Mogadishu, on March 7, the command said.

All of the strikes were coordinated with Somalia’s federal government. AFRICOM said no civilians were harmed in the strikes.

“Al-Shabab’s leadership recently reiterated its primary focus of attacking American and Western targets beyond Somalia’s borders,” U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Miguel Castellanos, the command’s deputy director of operations, said in a March 5 release.

The series of airstrikes brings this year’s total to at least 21 so far. That high pace, following the 63 total strikes conducted in 2019 that killed about 320 terrorists, is part of the “consistent pressure that we’ve applied to that network,” U.S. Africa Command spokesman Col. Christopher Karns said at AFA’s 2020 Air Warfare Symposium.

“What we’re doing on the continent is very much containing the threat to make sure that it doesn’t continue to grow in a way where their violence is exported more broadly,” Karns said.

AFRICOM typically conducts one or two strikes at a time and sometimes targets high-level al-Shabab leaders, such as the planner of the January Manda Bay, Kenya, attack that killed three Americans.

“Anytime you remove one of these threats, you stop their timeline,” Karns said. “So if it’s a mid-level or high-level leader in that planning apparatus, you don’t know how many future lives you potentially save by removing them.”