US forces kill 13 Shabaab militants in air strike
The United States carried out an air strike on Christmas Eve against the Shabaab Islamist group that left 13 dead, according to a statement released Wednesday.
"In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US forces conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab militants on the morning of Dec. 24, 2017, in southern Somalia, killing 13 terrorists," read the statement from the US Africa Command (AFRICOM).
The United States has stepped up its operations in Somalia in recent weeks, with frequent strikes against Shabaab and a separate self-proclaimed branch of the Islamic State in the Horn of Africa nation.
Three weeks ago the US said it had killed eight Shabaab militants, while an air strike in November reportedly left more than 100 jihadists dead.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab has been fighting to overthrow successive internationally backed governments in Mogadishu since 2007 and frequently deploys car and truck bombs against military, government and civilian targets.
The Shabaab lost its foothold in Mogadishu in 2011 but has continued its fight and still controls vast rural areas.
The group is widely blamed for the country's worst ever bombing which in October left 512 dead.