News / Africa

7 al-Shabab Militants Killed in Somalia Airstrike

Witnesses say an airstrike has killed seven members of the al-Qaida-linked rebel group al-Shabab in southern Somalia.

The air attack occurred early Friday in a rebel-controlled area known as Kilometer 60, south of the capital, Mogadishu.  

Somali officials say an al-Shabab commander was among those killed when a missile from an unidentified plane struck a vehicle.  A reporter for VOA's Somali Service says the dead include four foreigners and three Somalis.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack. U.S. forces have been known to conduct raids in Somalia, most recently in January when Navy commandos rescued two aid workers that were being held by pirates.

Separately, al-Shabab has released a video of what it says is a captured Kenyan soldier.  In the video, the soldier identified as Edward Mule Yesse, 30,  asks Kenya's government to withdraw its forces from southern Somalia, where they have been fighting al-Shabab since October.

The developments come one day after world leaders gathering in London pledged to help Somalia defeat al-Shabab and bring stability to the war-torn Horn of Africa country.  The Somali government Friday called the conference a "great victory" for the Somali people.

Members of Somalia's al-Shabaab militant group parade during a demonstration to announce integration with al Qaida, in Elasha, south of the capital Mogadishu, February 13, 2012
Members of Somalia's al-Shabaab militant group parade during a demonstration to announce integration with al Qaida, in Elasha, south of the capital Mogadishu, February 13, 2012

Al-Shabab is fighting Somalia's weak transitional government in an attempt to impose its strict version of Islamic law on the country.

Al-Shabab rebels control large portions of southern and central Somalia, but have recently lost ground in the face of offensives by Ethiopian, Kenyan, and African Union troops.

Earlier this month, al-Qaida announced a formal alliance with al-Shabab, though the groups are thought to have had informal ties for several years.

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