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US says the air strike kills 24 al-Shabab extremists in Somalia



JOHANNESBURG (AP) – The US military said Thursday that it has killed 24 al-Shabab extremists with an air strike in Somalia, one of the deadliest in months.

The air raid took place Wednesday near an extremist camp near Shebeeley in the central Hiran area north of the capital Mogadishu, said the American Command Africa in a statement.

It was the ninth air raid that the US carried out this year. The US carried out almost 50 strikes in the Horn of Africa last year against al-Qaida-affiliated al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack on a hotel complex in the capital of neighboring Kenya earlier this month, killing 21 people. The extremist group, which attacks Kenya in retaliation for sending troops to Somalia, has also focused on hotels, government offices and checkpoints in Mogadishu with suicide attacks.

The group is also accused of stealing humanitarian aid in the often drought-stricken country and the extortion of residents and travelers to finance the attacks.

The US statement said the air strikes are meant to support Somali troops because they increase the pressure on Al-Shabab and the recruitment efforts in the region, especially in South and Central Somalia. Extremist camps and other safe havens are targeted.

The American statement said that no civilians were killed or injured in the latest air raid.

On January 19, the US said that an air strike had killed 52 Al-Shabab extremists in the Central Juba area after a large group & # 39; had launched an attack on Somali troops. A Somali intelligence officer said the extremist group had gathered about 400 hunters for more than a week to carry out a major attack on Somali and Kenyan troops in order to disrupt a planned offensive.

In October, the US said an air strike killed about 60 hunters near the al-Shabab-controlled Harardere community in Mudug province in the central part of the country.

The United States has dramatically staged the air strikes on al-Shabab in Somalia since President Donald Trump took office. However, experts have said that it costs more than air attacks to defeat the extremists.

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