US kills six in Shabaab air strikes in Somalia

Local residents and Somali soldiers stand at site of a car bomb attack in the center of Mogadishu on September 11, 2017

Washington (AFP) – US forces in Somalia conducted three air strikes on Islamist Shabaab targets Wednesday, killing six fighters with the Al-Qaeda linked group, the US military said.

The pre-dawn operation occurred in southern Somalia about 160 miles (260 kilometers) south of Mogadishu.

The strikes were conducted under powers President Donald Trump gave the Pentagon in March that lets the military take counter-terrorism actions — whether airstrikes or ground raids — when it deems them necessary to support the Somali government.

“In coordination with the federal government of Somalia, US forces conducted three precision air strikes in Somalia against al-Shabaab … killing six terrorists,” the US military’s Africa Command said in a statement.

Before Trump broadened the Pentagon’s authorities, US military actions in the eastern African country each required high-level review by different agencies.

US special forces have been deployed in Somalia for years. There are currently about 50 US troops there.

Shabaab has been fighting since 2007 to overthrow the internationally backed government in Somalia.