MOGADISHU (Reuters) – The U.S. military launched an air strike in Somalia on Saturday, killing 52 Islamists who had attacked a Somali military base earlier in the day, it said.
The air strike targeted al Shabaab fighters who had rammed into the military base near Jilib, 370 km (230 miles) southwest of the capital Mogadishu using a suicide car bomb, military officials in the state of Jubbaland told Reuters.
Pictures taken at the scene after the strike and seen by Reuters showed a large burnt-out flatbed truck surrounded by charred bodies.
Other pictures appeared to show a car rigged with explosives that had not detonated at the Bar Sanguni forward operating base, which had come under al Shabaab attack.
Al Shabaab lost control of most Somali cities and towns after African Union and Somali troops pushed the hardline Islamists out of Mogadishu in 2011.
But their insurgency is still active.
On Friday they ambushed an Ethiopian military convoy 80 km (50 miles) north of Baidoa in central Somalia. Al Shabaab said it killed “more than 57 Ethiopian invaders”.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Defence said it used helicopter gunships and “successfully repulsed the attack” on the convoy which was able to continue on to its destination, Baidoa.
On Tuesday, al Shabaab militants attacked a hotel compound in neighbouring Kenya, killing at least 21 people.
The U.S. military said no civilians were believed to have been killed or injured in Saturday’s strike.
Al Shabaab retains a strong presence in parts of southern and central Somalia, and the U.S. military has stepped up air strikes over the last year.
They group could not immediately be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Feisal Omar in Mogadishu, Alexandra Zavis and Katharine Houreld in Nairobi; additional reporting by Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa; Writing by David Lewis and Omar Mohammed; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)