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Nine people killed in new US airstrike in Somalia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US military says strike kills nine militants in Somalia. (file photo)

The United States military has reportedly conducted an airstrike in Somalia, killing nine people.

The US’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) claimed in a press release that the US military had struck a position in Somalia and killed nine al-Shabab militants a day earlier.

“To support the Federal Government of Somalia’s continued efforts to degrade al-Shabab, US forces conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabab militants near Lebede, Somalia,” AFRICOM said.

“We currently assess this airstrike killed nine militants with no civilians involved,” it claimed, Reuters reported on Sunday.

AFRICOM says it carries out periodic airstrikes in the Horn of Africa country to support the UN-backed government there, which has been making efforts to eradicate the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in the past years.

The US military began conducting airstrikes in Somalia in 2007, with helicopters and AC-130 gunships. In June 2011, American forces began using drones to carry out airstrikes in Somalia on purported militant positions, in a mission which has so far failed to uproot the militants there.

US President Donald Trump has approved increased military operations against purported members of al-Shabab in Africa and Daesh in the Middle East and Asia.

Some observers say the US has stepped up its operations in Somalia — as well as elsewhere — in often secretive efforts to expand its military influence in those regions.

A recent report suggested Pentagon had secretly expanded its military presence in Tunisia, another North African country.

The US military has in recent years used the presence of Takfiri militants as a pretext to build up its forces across the continent, where it reportedly has over 6,000 boots on the ground.

The US also carries out drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya.

Locals say the US drone attacks often target civilians in those countries.

The civilian deaths have caused an international outcry. Pentagon’s controversial use of drones is shrouded in secrecy, lacks a clear legal foundation, and may amount to war crimes, according to experts on international law and human rights groups.

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