December 17, 2018 / 8:38 AM / 10 months ago

U.S. says air strikes killed 62 militants in Somalia

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Monday it had killed 62 militants in six air strikes over the weekend in the vicinity of Gandarsh in Somalia’s south-central Banaadir province.

The military’s Africa Command (Africom) said four strikes were carried out on Saturday, killing 34 militants, and two more on Sunday, which killed 28. “Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these air strikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire and recruit for future attacks,” Africom said in a statement.

The air strikes, among the deadliest this year, did not kill any civilians, the statement said.

“At this time we assess these air strikes did not injure or kill any civilians.”

The United States carries out regular air strikes in Somalia in support of a U.N.-backed government there, which has been fighting against an al Shabaab insurgency for years.

Last month, the U.S. military said it had killed 37 militants.

In Washington, the Pentagon cited 45 strikes against al Shabaab militants this year, after 35 strikes in 2017.

As of August 2018, the Pentagon believes there were 3,000 to 7,000 al Shabaab fighters and 70 to 250 Islamic State militants in Somalia, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning said during a press briefing.

Writing by Clement Uwiringiyimana; Additional reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington; editing by Kevin Liffey, Larry King and Richard Chang

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