U.S. forces have conducted an airstrike in Somalia that killed 35 al-Shabab militants, officials said Monday, in the latest in a string of attacks against the al-Qaida affiliate.
Sunday’s strike took place in the Hiran region of central Somalia and targeted armed Shabab fighters “as they were transitioning between locations in a rural area” and trying to “mass their forces,” the U.S. military’s Africa Command said in a statement.
“At this time, it is assessed this airstrike killed 35 terrorists,” the statement read.
Although the military did not specify, such airstrikes in Somalia are typically carried out by armed drones.
The Pentagon has increased the rate of strikes in Somalia in recent years, partly because President Donald Trump loosened constraints on when the U.S. military can take action against alleged terrorists.
Shabab fighters were pushed out of Somalia’s capital in 2011, and subsequently from other towns and cities, by African Union troops.
However, the Islamists still hold sway in large parts of the countryside. They launch regular gun and bomb attacks on government, military and civilian targets in Mogadishu as well as ambushes on military convoys and outposts.
In one strike last month, Africa Command said it killed 52 Somali militants.
In December, the U.S. military said it had killed 62 Shabab militants during six airstrikes in the Horn of Africa nation.
But Africa Command head General Thomas Waldhauser this month told U.S. lawmakers that airstrikes alone would not stop Shabab, and he called on Somalia’s army to take more responsibility in the fight.