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US Airstrike Hits Pro-Islamic State Militants in Somalia

Somali Puntland

The U.S. military says it conducted an airstrike in Somalia’s Puntland region that killed seven pro-Islamic state militants.

VOA’s Somali service initially reported the airstrike on Tuesday. Local officials and witnesses told VOA that Puntland regional forces carried out a ground operation against the militants in Turmasale and Amayra, mountainous hideouts near the village of Timirshe, 140 kilometers southeast of Bosaso.

A statement Wednesday from the U.S. Africa Command said the airstrike was in response to an attack on partner forces by the militants.

"We continue to apply pressure on terrorist groups and assist our Somali partners in disrupting their operations," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Miguel Castellanos, deputy director of operations, AFRICOM. "We continue our support to rid Somalia of the likes of ISIS and al-Shabaab."

AFRICOM said it assesses no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this latest airstrike. This was the United States’ 42nd airstrike of the year in Somalia, and the first targeting pro-ISIS forces.

Officials in Puntland issued their own statement, saying they killed 20 ISIS militants during 48-hour operation in the eastern parts of Bari region. Puntland says senior local militants and one senior foreign fighter were among those killed in the operation.

The statement did not identify the foreign fighters killed in the operation but say he was a trainer and a liaison between ISIS in Somalia and ISIS fighters in other parts of the world.

Puntland says the targeted foreign fighter has been in Somalia since 2014. Puntland also said their forces destroyed a storage for weapons, explosive materials and foods.