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Official: 15 Shabab Militants Killed in US-Somali Raid

FILE - U.S. special forces soldiers

U.S. military officials are denying that U.S. forces saw any ground action in a raid targeting al-Shabab militants in Somalia early Wednesday.

U.S. officials initially characterized the raid in the town of Awdhegle as a joint operation with the Somali National Army. But Pentagon officials now say that while U.S. helicopters were used in the raid, U.S. personnel "did not go all the way to the objective."

The chief of police in Somalia's Lower Shabelle region says forces in the raid killed 15 militants and took six others into custody.

Abdi Ibrahim Shamow told VOA's Somali Service that senior al-Shabab officials had been meeting in the town to organize militias for attacks against Somali government forces and African Union troops.

A local official said helicopters dropped between 60 and 70 soldiers outside Awdhegle just after midnight Wednesday. The official, Mohamed Aweys Abukar, told VOA the troops then attacked three or four targets in the town, inflicting a number of casualties on the militants.

Al-Shabab said one of its fighters was killed in the raid. The al-Qaida-linked group said its forces put up stiff resistance and eventually forced the troops to retreat.

This was the second time in five days U.S. forces were involved in an attack against Al-Shabab.

On Saturday, U.S. aircraft fired missiles at an Al-Shabab training camp in the Hiran region, north of Mogadishu. The Pentagon said the attack killed around 150 militants who were training for a large-scale attack against AU troops and U.S. military personnel in Somalia.

Al-Shabab confirmed the aerial attack but said the death toll was exaggerated.

VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin and VOA Somali service's Mohamed Olad contributed to this report.

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