- The airstrike came just a day after a car bomb rocked Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, whereby at least 80 people were killed.
- AFRICOM increased airstrikes against militant groups in the country after President Donald Trump said that the southern part of the country posed a security risk.
- Although no militant group has claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombing, similar attacks have been carried out by the al-Shabaab terror group
A United States airstrike against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab militant group killed at least four terrorists, US Command said in a statement. “In coordination with the federal government of Somalia, US Africa Command conducted three airstrikes in two locations targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Qunyo Barrow and Caliyoow Barrow, Somalia, respectively, December 29,” AFRICOM said.
The airstrike came just a day after a car bomb rocked Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, whereby at least 80 people were killed. A vehicle full of explosives blew up in the middle of a checkpoint on a road leading to Afgoye District in lower Shabelle Province. The checkpoint, known as Ex-Control checkpoint, is one of the main road tax collection government posts in Mogadishu. Witnesses said that the scene was horrific with corpses strewn in and around the checkpoint as the injured screamed and shouted for help. Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi condemned the attack as “a heinous act of terror.”
Qatar and Turkey provided emergency support to the Somali authorities, including personnel, medical supplies, and first aid. A Turkish military cargo plane on Sunday evacuated those badly injured including two of its nationals wounded in the terrible blast.
The United States carries out regular airstrikes in Somalia in support of a weak, United Nations-backed government in Mogadishu, which has fought al-Shabaab over the years. “The US and the federal government will continue to increase pressure on the terrorist organization in order to deny them the ability to plot terrorist attacks,” the AFRICOM statement said. AFRICOM increased airstrikes against militant groups in the country after President Donald Trump said that the southern part of the country posed a security risk. In a statement in April, AFRCOM said that it had killed more than 800 people in 110 airstrikes in Somalia since April 2017.
Although no militant group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s bombing, similar attacks have been carried out by the al-Shabaab terror group, which wants to topple the Somali government. Abdihakim Aynte, an analyst with the Mogadishu based heritage research organization, said that it was similar in all dimensions to attacks carried out by the al-Shabaab militant group. “The attack looks similar in all forms and shape to those of al-Shabaab and they always take advantage of government weakness to send a signal that they are still capable and can cause damage where they want and when they want,” Aynte said.
In October 2017, the deadliest attack by al-Shabaab in the country’s history left 512 people dead and 295 injured in Mogadishu. The militant group was forced out of Mogadishu several years ago, but it continues to target high profile areas like popular hotels and checkpoints. Earlier this month the 5 members of the group attacked a hotel popular with politicians, diplomats and police officers killing five civilians as well as the five terrorists.
In recent months, the Somali government claimed that security situation had improved with increased security personnel and surveillance.