US says drone strikes in Somalia kill 6 al-Shabab members

MOGADISHU, Somalia — The U.S. has carried out three drone strikes in southern Somalia that killed six members of the al-Shabab extremist group, the military said Wednesday, as efforts increase to combat Africa's deadliest Islamic extremist organization.

A U.S. Africa Command statement said Wednesday morning's strikes occurred about 260 kilometers (160 miles) south of the capital, Mogadishu. The statement, unlike previous ones, did not give more information on the location of the strikes.

"We assess no civilians were near the site," a spokeswoman for the U.S. Africa Command, Robyn Mack, told The Associated Press. She said they had no details on the al-Shabab members killed.

The U.S. military has carried out several airstrikes against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab in the Horn of Africa nation since President Donald Trump approved expanded military operations against the group. The U.S. said the latest strikes were carried out in coordination with Somalia's government.

The U.S. last week announced that two separate drone strikes had killed four al-Shabab members.

Al-Shabab holds vast areas of rural Somalia after being chased out of major cities in recent years by a multinational African Union force and Somali forces. The group continues to threaten the fragile central government and carry out deadly attacks in neighboring countries, notably Kenya.

The U.S. and Somalia in recent weeks said strikes have killed al-Shabab leaders responsible for planning and executing deadly attacks in Mogadishu, where high-profile areas such as hotels and military checkpoints are often targeted with deadly bombings.

But concerns also were raised last month after Somali officials said 10 civilians, including children, were killed in a raid by foreign and Somali forces in Barire village in the south. The U.S. military at the time confirmed it had supported a counter-terror operation in the area and said it would look into the allegations.

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