The Department of Defense hit a camp of al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia Saturday, killing 150 in an act of “self-defense.”
The strike took place on an area called Raso Camp, a training facility 120 miles north of the Somalian capital of Mogadishu. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a written statement Monday the terrorists posed an “imminent threat” to both U.S. and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces currently operating in Somalia. The strike involved both traditional and unmanned aircraft.
“The fighters who were scheduled to depart the camp posed an imminent threat to U.S. and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Somalia,” said the statement. “The removal of these fighters degrades al-Shabaab’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Somalia, including recruiting new members, establishing bases, and planning attacks on U.S. and AMISOM forces.”
The training camp had been under surveillance by U.S. special operations forces for weeks, according to Pentagon spokesman U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis. The group was apparently training and poised to engage in a “large-scale attack” until it was hit by U.S. forces. Davis did not say where the attack was set to occur, but it is believed the U.S. operates drone flights out of Mogadishu and maintains a contingent of as many as 120 military personnel on the ground.
Al-Shabaab is a Somalia-based terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaida. The group became especially notorious after massacring 147 students at Garissa college in neighboring Kenya in April 2015 and has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State since 2008.
In addition to Saturday’s air strike, the group’s numbers have dwindled due to infighting. A group of 200 al-Shabaab fighters splintered in an attempt to create an Islamic State affiliate in December 2015.
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