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US air strikes target al-Shabab extremist rebels in Somalia

JOHANNESBURG — The U.S. military says it has carried out six airstrikes in the Gandarshe area of Somalia which killed a total of 62 al-Shabab extremist rebels.

In a statement issued Monday, the U.S. military’s Africa Command said it carried out four strikes on Dec. 15 in which 34 people were killed and two more on Dec. 16 which killed 28. All the air attacks were in the Gandarshe coastal area south of the capital, Mogadishu, it said.

No civilians were injured or killed in the attacks, it said.

All six strikes were carried out in close coordination with Somalia’s government, it said. The airstrikes were “conducted to prevent al-Shabab from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks,” it said.

Al-Shabab uses parts of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct extremist attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radicals, said the statement.

With these attacks, the U.S. military has carried out at least 46 airstrikes so far this year against al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaida and Africa’s most active Islamic extremist group. Al Shabab controls parts of rural southern and central Somalia and continues to stage deadly attacks in Mogadishu and other cities.

The U.S. airstrikes have picked up dramatically since President Donald Trump took office and approved expanded military operations in the Horn of Africa nation. Airstrikes also target a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State group.

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