A checkpoint in the desert of the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland leads to the port city of Bossaso, Somalia, March 25, 2018. (J. Patinkin/VOA)
FILE - A checkpoint in the desert of the Somali state of Puntland leads to the port city of Bosaso, Somalia, March 25, 2018. A witness said missiles fired by a suspected U.S. drone hit a mountainous area in Puntland on Friday. (J. Patinkin/VOA)

WASHINGTON/BOSASO - A suspected U.S. airstrike hit a base belonging to Islamic State militants in Somalia's Puntland region, according to local residents.

A witness, who spoke to VOA Somali on the condition of anonymity, said about four missiles fired by a suspected U.S. drone hit a mountainous area Friday near the remote village of Ameyra, 150 kilometers south of Bosaso.

"We first heard the noise of aircrafts flying low over the mountainous area, then four heavy strikes occurred within the range of about 15 minutes. Then, plumes of black smoke coming from the mountains followed," said the witness.

Puntland security officials contacted by VOA said they heard the news, but they could not comment on it as they were in the middle of assessing and collecting the details.

Details about the exact target of the strikes and who carried them out are unavailable.  However, the area, known as a hideout for Islamic State militants in Somalia, has seen several U.S. airstrikes this year.

One attack in April killed the deputy leader of Somalia's IS group, Abdulhakim Dhuqub, who was responsible for the extremist group's daily operations, attack planning and resource procurement.

Another airstrike in May killed 13 of the group's fighters.

The U.S. military's Africa Command has said the precision airstrikes it carries out in Somalia are to support Somali government security forces and allow space for governance to grow in the country.

Fadumo Yasiin Jama contributed this story from Bosaso.