Both manned and unmanned aircraft were reportedly used in a massive U.S. airstrike on a training camp for the al-Shabaab terrorist organization in Somalia on Saturday.
Based on Monday reports from the Pentagon, it looks like most of the “graduating class” at the terrorist camp was wiped out while they were “standing outdoors in formation” at a graduation ceremony, according to one U.S. official.
The New York Times reports over 150 terrorist casualties from the attack, with no indications of civilian collateral damage. The training facility was located in Rasa, about 120 miles north of Mogadishu. Pentagon officials said the trainees were preparing for a “large-scale attack” on African Union forces, and U.S. special operations forces in Somalia.
Fox News quotes Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis saying the camp was kept under close observation for two weeks before the attack. “We struck the camp and destroyed it,” he said of the outcome.
The New York Times notes that al-Shabaab has been “making a comeback after American strikes killed the group’s top leadership in 2014.” It is affiliated with al-Qaeda, which is dueling with the Islamic State for the alpha role in global Islamist terrorism.
The terror group has been raising its profile with attacks that have killed over 150 people during the past two months, and claimed responsibility for the failed bomb attack on a jetliner in February. Sky News reports an al-Shabaab bombing at a small-town airport wounded an African Union peacekeeper and two Somali soldiers on Monday.
The timely destruction of the Rasa training camp should deal a blow to the terror gang’s comeback plans.
“The removal of these fighters degrades al-Shabaab’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Somalia, including recruiting new members, establishing bases, and planning attacks on U.S. and AMISOM forces,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook, quoted by ABC News. AMISOM refers to the African Union Mission in Somalia, evidently the prime target for the major attack al-Shabaab was planning.