WASHINGTON - Somali and U.S. military forces have destroyed an al-Shabab training base in Somalia's Middle Jubba region.
Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo said Sunday he authorized the country's special forces with support from international partners to conduct a pre-dawn strike against an al-Shabab training camp near Sakow.
He said the strike destroyed a key al-Shabab command and supply hub, which will "disrupt the enemy’s ability to conduct new attacks within Somalia.”
The U.S. military confirmed it participated "as a direct response to al-Shabab actions," including recent attacks on Somali and African Union forces. It says eight al-Shabab militants were killed in the strike.
Farmajo said Somalia has long suffered in the hands of al-Shabab, which he says is supported by global terror networks.
He did not say if any senior al-Shabab commanders were at the camp during the strike. Sakow is in the heartland of al-Shabab controlled region of Middle Jubba, ruling out ground troops involved in the attack.
In recent years U.S. drone strikes have targeted a number of key al-Shabab commanders, including former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane who was killed on September 1, 2014.
Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White says the United States is "committed to working with our Somali partners and allies to systematically dismantle al-Shabab, and help achieve stability and security throughout the region."
A source tells VOA Somali an airstrike took place near Sakow and that it may have targeted a group of about 10 al-Shabab members, including key figures.
Al-Shabab has reportedly sealed off the area and are questioning people in an attempt to identify who may have collaborated with the operation.
“We and our international partners will take every possible precaution to protect our civilian population from harm during these operations while targeting terrorists,” Farmajo said.
The Somali president reiterated his call to al-Shabab to take advantage of his amnesty issued on April 6.
“To the members of al-Shabab, I tell you that we are bringing the fight to you. If you, however take advantage of my amnesty offer and denounce violence, we will integrate you into our reform program,” he said.
“You have no future with the terrorists, but you can still be a part of Somalia’s future; a peaceful and prosperous future.”