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Local Official: Somali Commandos Kill 15 in Raid on al-Shabab Base


FILE - Al-Shabab fighters are seen marching with their weapons during exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 17, 2011.

A Somali commando unit killed at least 15 suspected Islamist fighters Wednesday in a raid on an al-Shabab base in Galgudud region, central Somalia, the second such raid in two days.

Local government official Qadar Mohamed Ali told VOA's Somali service that the aim of the raid was to destroy the base and neutralize the militants' capacity to organize and carry out regional attacks.

Galgudud region, Somalia
Galgudud region, Somalia

Ali said Somali troops seized rocket-propelled grenades and mortars in the raid. He said no Somali troops were killed or injured.

The raid came a day after an attack on an al-Shabab base in the village of Toratorow, about 100 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, in which an unknown number of militants were captured or killed.

There have been conflicting reports on how much involvement U.S. forces had in the Toratorow raid.

Somali security official Mohamed Nur Gabow told VOA Somali that U.S. forces played a "lead role" in the operation targeting al-Shabab officials. He said U.S. personnel flew helicopters in the raid. Residents of Toratorow said the helicopters dropped Somali fighters on the outskirts of Toratorow to hunt for the militants on foot.

But AFRICOM, the U.S. military command center in Africa, said U.S. fighters were not involved in any "kinetic operations" in the raid — meaning nothing that involved the use of lethal force. In a statement, AFRICOM said, "This was not a U.S.-led, nor was it a U.S.-unilateral operation."

The United States has trained a Somali government commando unit known as “Danab” or “Lightning” of about 500 soldiers who conduct special operations.

A similar joint U.S.-Somali operation took place in the nearby town of Awdhegle in March. The Pentagon said the U.S. played only a support role in that operation.

The Somali government has battled al-Shabab since the al-Qaida-linked militant group formed in 2006. The U.S. designated al-Shabab as a terrorist group in 2008 and has given the Somali government financial and military support to combat the group.

VOA national security correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.