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US air strikes kill ‘several’ in Somalia

US drone [All India Radio News/Facebook]

The US has confirmed executing several air strikes killing “several militants” yesterday, a press release by the US Africa Command said.

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, the US obliterated targets in the Bay Region, south of Somalia at 15:00 local time. The location of the target were “100 miles west” (160 kilometres) of the capital, Mogadishu.

The US did not mention the number of Al-Shabaab fighters killed or whether there were any civilian casualties. The US did not specify if the weapon systems used was an unmanned drone or other military aircraft, strengthening a criticism that the US government’s drone programme lacks transparency and accountability.

“The latest strikes in Somalia are yet another sign of the Trump Administration’s bellicose expansion of the US drone strike programme and follow reports that Trump has loosened rules on lethal strikes across the globe,” Alex Moorehead, international legal expert at Columbia Law School. said.

Read: Aftermath of Somalia’s 9/11 counter-terrorism quandary

“These new rules are very concerning and will lead to the US killing more civilians in more countries,” Moorehead continued.

“This bellicose approach – with a dramatic increase in strikes in Somalia and Yemen this year – has been accompanied by a decline in transparency: The new rules have been kept secret. Congress, the public, and US allies should demand transparency from the Trump administration and an end to war without limits before more civilians are killed.”

President Donald Trump has given the US Military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) broader authority to target in Somalia, considering parts of the country “temporary battlefields”.

The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab frequently launches suicide operations in civilian populated areas across Somalia, including Mogadishu. The last attack on a hotel in the capital killed 29 people.

The Somali National Army also launched a fresh offensive against Al-Shabaab yesterday in Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia. The offensive took place in Afgoye and Balad districts where the fighters have increased their presence in view to collect the religious tax known as “Zakat” from the villagers.

The offensive comes after the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) declared that it will withdraw some 1,000 soldiers from the country by the end of the year.

Lower Shabelle and Middle regions in Somalia are frequently targeted by US strikes, Somali National Army offences and African Union troops. Ethiopia last week sent 1,000 troops to counter Al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2012, which attracted US counter-terrorism operations to extend to Somalia. The African Union troops alongside the Somali National Army work alongside each other to counter armed groups in Somalia.

UN: Daesh in Somalia is expanding

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