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U.S. and Somali Strikes on Shabab Said to Kill Nearly 100 Militants

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — Nearly 100 members of the Shabab, the Qaeda-linked insurgent group in Somalia, were killed in separate strikes this week, according to Somali and American officials.

More than a dozen militants were killed in a United States airstrike 20 miles north of the capital of Mogadishu, according to Samantha Reho, a spokeswoman with the United States Africa Command. The Friday strike was carried out in coordination with the Somali government, she said in an email.

It was the 23rd American airstrike in the country this year, and the second in 24 hours. On Thursday, airstrikes killed “several militants” in the Bay region, about 100 miles west of Mogadishu, according to a statement from the Africa Command.

Separately, the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency killed 81 Shabab fighters earlier this week in Jilib, in southern Somalia, government officials said on Saturday.

The state security forces “planted mines in a militant bomb-making site in Jilib district,” Abdirahman Omar Osman, the Minister of Information, said by telephone.

Jilib is a Shabab stronghold about 75 miles north of the port city of Kismayo, where militants attacked a Somali army base in September.

Mr. Osman claimed the attack “destroyed all explosive materials” and “technical vehicles” Shabab had stored at the site. He declined to give further details of the attack, citing a pending investigation.

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Andalus radio, the broadcast arm of the Shabab, denied there was any attack on Jilib. The group’s spokesman told the radio station that no fighters had been killed.

Neither claim could be independently verified, and both the government and the Shabab have been known to exaggerate or minimize casualty claims for propaganda purposes.

In October, a truck bomb at a busy intersection in Mogadishu killed 358 people; the Shabab were blamed for the attack.

The group also claimed responsibility for a hotel attack that killed 23 people at the end of October.

Last Friday, United States forces carried out airstrikes against an Islamic State-affiliated Shabab splinter group, operating in the central Somali region of Puntland. It was the first United States strike against the Islamic State in the country.

The United States Mission in Somalia the next day directed nonessential personnel to leave Mogadishu indefinitely, citing a specific threat against Americans in the city.

Somaliland

Protests in Somaliland As Opposition Claim Election Fraud

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Wadani Party supporters took to the streets of various opposition strongholds to protest what they claim to be election irregularities.

In Burco police used live bullets to disperse protestors.

Riots erupted hours after senior Wadani officials held a press conference on Thursday morning, accusing the ruling party of purchasing and using ballot papers forged with NEC’s official stamp.

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Somali News

Pentagon says more than 500 US troops now in Somalia, but denies ‘build up’

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The Pentagon announced in a statement Thursday there are now “more than” 500 US troops on the ground in Somalia.

A significant increase from early 2014 when roughly two dozen troops arrived for the first time since 1993 and the Black Hawk Down incident.

US Africa Command says there have been 28 airstrikes this year, mostly from drones against al-Shabaab, long considered the greatest terror threat in Africa.

At a press conference Thursday at the Pentagon, a top defense official denied any “ramp-up.”

“I do not believe necessarily there’s a ramp-up,” said Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff when asked about the spike in airstrikes in Somalia. “It’s the density of targets is such that now there’s some of opportunities to do those strikes.”

The US military recently conducted six straight days of airstrikes in Somalia from last Thursday to Tuesday.

Last month, al-Shabaab was blamed for a truck bombing in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu which killed over 300 people.

The head of the Pentagon’s joint staff said there’s no link between the fall of the ISIS capital Raqqa last month, and the first airstrikes against ISIS in Yemen and Somalia.

US DRONE STRIKE IN SOMALIA KILLS ‘SEVERAL AL-SHABAAB MILITANTS, MILITARY SAYS

Earlier this month, the US conducted the first airstrikes against ISIS in Somalia.

McKenzie also denied the increase of hundreds of additional troops in Somalia as a “build up,” but just a “flow of forces in and out” of the country.

In May, a Navy SEAL was killed fighting al-Shabaab, the first combat death in Somalia since 1993.

In addition to Somalia, the US military has conducted over 100 airstrikes against Al Qaeda in Yemen, including the first strikes against ISIS in Yemen last month.

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Briefing Room

UNSC votes to extend sanctions on Eritrea and Somalia

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The United Nations Security Council has voted to extend an arms embargo imposed on Eritrea and Somalia for allegedly supporting al-Shabaab. The decision comes barely a week after a panel of experts called for the lifting of sanctions particularly on Somalia. CGTN’s Liling Tan filed this report from New York

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