US targets ISIS for the first time in Somalia amid growing African presence

For the first time in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) extremism, the U.S. struck ISIS terrorists in Somalia.

In a statement released by the the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), two drone strikes were conducted with the cooperation of the Somali government.  Although AFRICOM reported casualties were inflicted, including “several terrorists”, it was still assessing the results of the strikes.

“U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats. This includes partnering with AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF); targeting terrorists, their training camps and safe havens throughout Somalia, the region and around the world,” the statement concluded.

According to reports, the first strike occurred just after midnight on Friday morning; a second strike was launched hours later.

A growing presence in Somalia, the attacks targeted a remote village, Buqa, in the autonomous state of Puntland.  At least six missiles struck the mountainous area according to an anonymous local official who spoke with the Associated Press.

The region is a known home to several ISIS outposts manned by militants with links to al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabaab. Since President Trump took office in January, approximately 20 airstrikes have been launched targeting the militant fundamentalist group.

The attacks follow ISIS fighter Sayfullo Saipov’s Tuesday truck attack in Manhattan, which killed eight and injured a dozen more pedestrians and cyclists.  In October, approximately 350 people died after a truck bomb exploded in the Somalian capital city of Mogadishu — an attack attributed to al-Shabaab.

A retaliatory raid in response to the New York attack, President Trump has vowed to hit ISIS “10 times harder” for every attack on the U.S.

According to AFRICOM, 6,000 U.S. military personnel are currently stationed on the continent of Africa, charged with supporting regional forces to fight insurgent groups.

 

[Daily Mail] [USA Today] [Al Jazeera] [Photo courtesy AP via Los Angeles Times]

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