Toll of US air strikes exaggerated - al-Shabaab

2016-03-08 16:03

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Mogadishu – Somali rebel group al-Shabab has denied US claims that 150 of their fighters were killed in air strikes late on Saturday.

Washington said on Monday that it had carried out several strikes in southern Somalia that left the 150 of the al-Qaeda-linked group's fighters dead.

"The Americans are dreaming. We never gather that many of our fighters in one place. We know the security situation," Abdulaziz Abu Mus'ab, the group's military operations spokesperson, told Al Jazeera in a phone call on Tuesday.

"Yes, the attack happened and it happened at the location they mentioned but the number they are telling the world is a lie," Mus'ab added.

The armed group, which is fighting Somalia's internationally recognised government, has recently attacked and overrun military bases belonging to African Union troops.

The strikes occurred at 14:00GMT on Saturday at a camp which is about 130km from Belidogle airport in the Lower Shabelle region - a major base AMISOM troops. American soldiers are also present at the Belidogle base.

Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said: "The fighters were there training and were training for a large-scale attack... We know they were going to be departing the camp and they posed an imminent threat to US and [African Union] forces.

"It was an air operation. Initial assessments are that more than 150 terrorist fighters were eliminated."

Al-Shabaab on January 15 attacked and captured an AMISOM base home to Kenyan troops in El Adde, southwestern Somalia. The group killed dozens of Kenyan troops and captured several soldiers.

The group also carried out similar dawn raid on an African Union base in September 2015 killing 20 African Union soldiers.

They also overrun a Ugandan army-run base in Janaale, about 90km southwest of the Somali capital.

In June 2015, the group captured another African Union base in Lego, killing dozens of soldiers and seizing weapons and ammunition.

The group has lost control of most towns and cities in the country but continues to carry out attacks. They were pushed out of the Somali capital in August 2011.

Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  us  |  somalia

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