Security forces assist Abdalla Boss, a Somali Member of Parliament who was wounded following a car bomb claimed by al Shabaab Islamist militants outside the president's palace in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, August 30, 2016.
Security forces assist Abdalla Boss, a Somali Member of Parliament who was wounded following a car bomb claimed by al Shabaab Islamist militants outside the president's palace in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, August 30, 2016.

The U.S. conducted two airstrikes in southern Somalia early this week that killed four al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants.

The U.S. Africa Command says Monday's strikes came in response to an attack by a "large group of armed al-Shabab fighters'' on a joint counterterrosim operation by the U.S. and Somalia.

The U.S. military has in the past used drones to target al-Shabab’s senior leaders. The Pentagon said in June it carried out a strike in late May against Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, one of al Shabab’s senior military planners who served as a principal coordinator of attacks in Somalia, Kenya, and Uganda.

The latest strikes took place in Torotorow in Lower Shabelle region, on Monday.

"During a Somali-led counterterrorism operation, a large group of armed al-Shabab fighters attacked the force, threatening the safety and security of the forces in the area," said Captain Jennifer Dyrcz, a U.S. Africa Command spokeswoman.

Al-Shabab was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union peacekeeping forces in 2011 but has remained a potent antagonist in Somalia, launching frequent attacks aimed at overthrowing the Western-backed government.

VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed o this report.  Some information was provided by Reuters.