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AFRICOM to Resume Announcing Somalia Airstrike Death Tolls


FILE - Somali security officers look at the body of a suspected al-Shabab fighter in Mogadishu, Somalia, Nov. 5, 2016. AFRICOM said Friday it will resume disclosing the number of enemy fighters killed and damage information caused from its airstrikes.

U.S. Africa Command, which oversees U.S. military operations on the continent, will again release the number of enemy fighters killed and damage information caused from its airstrikes, after briefly saying it would no longer do so.

"We will continue to report results of strikes, although we are working on refining our messaging to place less emphasis on the number of militants killed and place more context on how these strikes are helping our Somali partners achieve their strategic security objectives," AFRICOM spokesman John Manley told VOA Friday.

The U.S. military announced Thursday it had carried out two new airstrikes in Somalia against the al-Shabab extremist group the day before but did not provide details on fighters killed or damage done to enemy weapons or positions. A U.S. Africa Command spokesman referred VOA and other outlets to the Somali government to obtain that information.

Hours later, a defense official told VOA the strikes had targeted an al-Shabab checkpoint, killing one militant.

The latest strikes come days after the deadliest U.S. airstrike in Somalia in months. U.S. Africa Command announced Saturday that 52 militants of the al-Qaida-linked extremist group were killed in a strike in Somalia's Middle Juba region.

The U.S. military said the strike was in retaliation for an attack on Somali forces.

"The terrorists have attacked the base with suicide blasts and fierce fighting occurred. We defeated them and forced them to flee, killing at least 70 militants during the attack and an airstrike that followed," Abdinur Ibrahim, a Somali regional security spokesman, told VOA.

VOA Somali service reporter Mohamed Olad Hassan contributed to this report.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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