WASHINGTON — The United States military killed more than 100 people identified by the Pentagon as being affiliated with the Islamic militant group Shabab, continuing a stepped-up pace of strikes against targets in Somalia, officials said Tuesday.
The United States Africa Command said in a statement that the airstrike was carried out 125 miles northwest of Mogadishu, the Somali capital. The strike comes after President Trump relaxed restrictions on American military commanders in Somalia.
Separately, United States Africa Command also said that it conducted two airstrikes in Libya against Islamic State militants, on Friday and Sunday. Defense officials did not say how many people were killed in those strikes.
The Trump administration has stepped up its campaign to defeat the Shabab, the group responsible for the 2013 attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The siege on the upscale mall, where dozens were killed, heightened American concerns that the Shabab’s desire to inflict casualties extended beyond Somalia.
For more than a decade, the United States has been trying to fight the Shabab through economic sanctions, missile strikes and commando raids. In 2014, former President Barack Obama increased efforts, and an American drone strike killed the leader of the Shabab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, one of the most wanted men in Africa at the time.
But the organization has come back, and continues to prove itself to be a potent and resilient killing force.
In the past year the Pentagon has doubled the number of troops in Somalia to about 500, many of them Special Operations forces dispatched to train and advise Somali army and counterterrorism troops, and to conduct clandestine kill-or-capture raids of their own.