• U.S. Africa Command denied al-Shabaab claims of U.S. casualties
  • No civilians were reported dead or injured
  • "Will continue to place pressure" on the extremist group, US military said

Six al-Shabaab extremists were killed and three others were wounded in an airstrike in Somalia, said United States military Wednesday.

The airstrike was carried out by the U.S. military Monday near Darasalam village in southern Somalia's Lower Shabelle region after the al-Qaida-aligned group attacked Somalian forces from a nearby building, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a statement.

Dismissing an al-Shabaab report claiming of U.S. casualties, the statement said that no U.S. military personnel were killed or wounded during the operation. No civilians were reported to be injured or killed either.

Al-Shabaab has been active in Somalia since 2006 and, according to AFRICOM, the group remains "resilient" despite joint efforts from the African and U.S forces.

Being the most active Islamic extremist group in Africa, al-Shabaab militants have been conducting their operations in Somalia for over a decade, causing the deaths of tens of thousands and displacing millions of others. The leaders of the extremist group had expressed that its key aspiration is to conduct attacks not just in East Africa, but against "Americans and U.S. interests around the world."

"Al-Shabaab is a dangerous enemy," U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, deputy director for operations, AFRICOM, said in the release. "It is a danger to Africa and the United States. We will continue to place pressure on the network and impact their ability to plan and execute these acts."

There has been a rise in the number of airstrikes against the group after President Donald Trump took office in 2017. AFRICOM carried out 43 airstrikes in Somalia in 2020 alone, which is way more than the 42 operations carried out during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2007 to 2017, Time reported.

"Al-Shabaab routinely resorts to the tradecraft of terror, crime, and propaganda to intimidate and seek control of the local populace," Col. Chris Karns, director public affairs, AFRICOM, said in the release. "Persistent pressure against the al-Shabaab damages their narrative, network, and plans for broader destruction and violence."

A U.S. service member and two U.S. contractors were killed in January during an attack from the al-Shabaab extremists on a military airstrip in neighboring Kenya. The group had shared online images showing masked fighters standing next to a blazing aircraft, marking the group’s first attack against U.S. forces in that country.

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli war planes carried out airstrikes on the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah on August 12
Representational image. AFP / SAID KHATIB