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US, Somali Forces Target al-Shabab in Joint Helicopter Raid


A Somali soldier stands amid ruins in Mogadishu, May, 9, 2016, after a suicide car bomber linked to al-Shabab struck traffic police headquarters. Somali and U.S. special forces led a joint raid Tuesday on a terrorist base.

U.S. and Somali special forces conducted a joint raid early Tuesday on an al-Shabab base, killing or capturing an unknown number of the extremist group’s militants.

Somali security official Mohamed Nur Gabow told VOA Somali that U.S. forces played a "lead role" in the operation targeting al-Shabab officials.

Residents in the village of Toratorow, about 100 kilometers southwest of the East African country’s capital of Mogadishu, said soldiers dropped from helicopters on the village’s outskirts and then went to their target on foot.

Gabow said the operation lasted for two hours and the troops met no resistance. He declined to identify the targets of the raid or specify how many militants had been killed or taken into custody. But the command center of the Somali national army told VOA that the raid had targeted an al-Shabab office that collects taxes. It said al-Shabab officers who were at the office were killed in the raid.

A U.S. official confirmed that a joint operation took place but gave no specifics on the role of U.S. forces or any "battle damage assessment."

Al-Shabab's account

Al-Shabab said that the attack was carried out by about 10 U.S. soldiers and that its fighters repelled them. It said the troops wounded an elderly woman in the village.

On Tuesday morning, the militants turned off the village’s phone network and ordered everyone to stay indoors, residents said.

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 United States 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.