US forces in Africa have killed 17 suspected Islamic State militants in airstrikes this week in the mountainous northern region of Somalia, a military statement said Friday.
The US Africa Command, or Africom said it had ‘conducted an airstrike targeting an ISIS-Somalia encampment in the Golis Mountains’, its fourth airstrike against the group since April 14.
‘At this time, it is assessed the airstrike on May 9 killed four terrorists,’ said the statement.
A separate statement published Thursday said that a strike in the same region on May 8 had left 13 suspected militants dead.
‘At this time, it is assessed the airstrike on May 8 killed thirteen terrorists. Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike,’ said that statement.
The Islamic State has a relatively small presence in Somalia compared to the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab.
But IS has been particularly active in the northern Puntland region, establishing training camps and depots for weapons coming mainly from nearby Yemen.
The Shebab, by far the largest radical militant group in Somalia, officially integrated into Al-Qaeda in 2012. But a small number of its members -- around 200 -- defected to the IS.
That group, based in semi-autonomous Puntland, is led by Abdulqadir Mumin, who in August 2016 was placed by the US State Department on a list of international terrorists.
IS in Somalia has been the target of previous airstrikes.
Africa Command said an April 14 strike in Somalia killed IS's second in command there, Abdulhakim Dhuqub, who was in charge of the group's attack planning and daily operations.
As of late 2018, Africom put the number of IS fighters in Somalia at between 75 and 250 -- compared to the estimated 3,000 to 7,000 Shebab members.
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