US airstrikes help repel attack on US base in Somalia
The U.S. military carried out two airstrikes and exchanged small arms fire with al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia after a base used by U.S. personnel was attacked by a vehicle-borne bomb Monday, U.S. Africa Command said in a statement to CNN.
The al-Shabaab attack on the Baledogle Military Airfield complex in Baledogle, Somalia, did not result in any deaths or injuries to U.S. or Somali personnel, according to the statement.
“In response to this attack and in self-defense, U.S. Africa Command conducted two airstrikes and used small arms fire targeting al-Shabaab terrorists. It is assessed U.S. and partner forces killed 10 terrorists and destroyed one vehicle involved in the attack,” the statement added.
“This attack, though ineffective, demonstrates the direct threat al-Shabaab poses to Americans, our allies, and interests in the region,” Maj. Gen. William Gayler, Africa Command’s director of operations, said in the statement.
The U.S. has approximately 600 personnel in Somalia where they train and advise local Somali forces battling al-Shabaab and the local ISIS affiliate.
U.S. Special Operations forces in Somalia’s primary task is to train and build a Somalia specialized light infantry force known as Danab.
The U.S. has also upped the number of airstrikes it has conducted against terrorist groups in Somalia this year, surpassing last year’s number of 47.
The high profile attack on the U.S. base in Somalia comes amid reports of another such attack on Italian forces participating in a separate training mission for local security forces.
Earlier Monday, the Italian Defense Ministry said two Italian Army vehicles participating in a European Union training mission in Somalia were hit by an explosion on Monday morning in Mogadishu.
No one from the Italian Army was injured, a ministry spokesperson said.
The U.S. military estimates that al-Shabaab commands somewhere between 5,000 to 7,000 fighters and still controls about 20% of Somalia’s territory.