MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) – A US airstrike in central Somalia killed 27 al-Shabaab members, the American military said on Wednesday.
The airstrike was conducted on Sept. 18 “at the request of the Federal Government of Somalia … against al-Shabaab terrorists who were attacking Somali National Army forces near Buulobarde,” the US African Command said in a statement.
No civilians were injured, it added.
“The defensive strikes allowed the Somali National Army and African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) forces to regain the initiative and continue the operation to disrupt al-Shabaab in the Hiran region of central Somalia,” the statement said.
“This operation is the largest combined Somali and ATMIS offensive operation in five years.”
Violence has increased in the Hiran region this month as authorities have engaged locals in efforts to reclaim villages from al-Shabaab.
Residents reported fierce fighting between Somali forces and Al-Shabaab in Booco this week, while senior military officials told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that there were casualties on both sides.
Booco, a strategic town some 55 kilometers (35 miles) east of Hiran’s capital Beledweyne, has been under al-Shabaab’s control for more than 13 years.
Somalia has been grappling with increasing insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab being one of the main threats in the Horn of Africa country.
Since 2007, the group has waged a deadly campaign against the Somali government and international forces.
The UN has also warned of growing instability in the country, with its periodic reports on Somalia this year detailing attacks by al-Shabaab and pro-ISIS groups.