U.S. forces launched an airstrike on a terror group in southern Somalia over the weekend, killing three terrorists, officials said.
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said its forces carried out a “self-defense airstrike” in a remote area of Somalia, approximately 22 miles northeast of Kismayo, on Sunday, Jan. 21, killing three Al-Shabaab members. The forces launched the strike at the request of the Somali government.
“The initial assessment is that the U.S. airstrike killed three al Shabaab terrorists and that no civilians were injured or killed,” AFRICOM said. “U.S. Africa Command will continue to assess the results of this airstrike and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operational security.”
“U.S. Africa Command, alongside its partners, continues to take action to prevent this malicious terrorist group from planning and conducting attacks on civilians,” the statement continued.
Kismayo is a port city located 300 miles southwest of the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
The Al-Shabaab terror group is the largest and most active al-Qaeda network in the world. It has threatened to attack U.S. forces and has proved it is capable of doing so. It also targets U.S. security interests in the region.
AFRICOM said it will continue to give partner forces “the tools that they need to degrade al Shabaab,” including continued training, advising, and supplies as Somalia remains key to the security environment in East Africa.
The region between Somalia and Yemen has been particularly tense in recent months, ignited by Israel’s war with Hamas.
Two U.S. Navy SEALs died in the Arabian Sea earlier this month off the coast of Somalia, U.S. officials said.
Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram, a member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 3, began to climb aboard an unflagged ship that was carrying illicit Iranian-made weapons to Yemen when he slipped and fell into the water.
Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher J. Chambers immediately jumped to his aid but, under the cover of night, both went missing.
On Sunday, the 11-day search and rescue mission to locate the two SEALs was called off and became a recovery effort. On Monday, the Navy released their names after their families were notified.
“Chris and Gage selflessly served their country with unwavering professionalism and exceptional capabilities,” said Capt. Blake Chaney, commander of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, which oversees SEAL Team 3. “This loss is devastating for NSW, our families, the special operations community, and across the nation.”
The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet is continuing to investigate the incident.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.