Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Authorities claim 30 al-Shabab militants killed in US drone strike in Somalia

A US. .drone fired at least two missiles that struck a vehicle and caused a large explosion on a nearby al-Shabab base at Bardere.
The Kenyan Interior Ministry confirmed the strike and claimed 30 members of al-Shabab were killed with another 20 or more killed in an associated artillery barrage. Initially, Kenyan authorities had claimed that one of those killed was the mastermind of the attack on Garissa University. The Kenyan Defense Ministryclaimed that 51 militants were killed in the area by an artillery bombardment without mentioning the drone strikes. According to the Defense Ministry: "Fifty-one Al-Shebab militants were killed including several middle-level commanders who have been responsible for attacks in the Mandera region" of northeastern Kenya, the statement said, describing it as "major setback to the militants."
Local residents reported that two senior commanders were killed in the drone attack. Fighters appeared to be leaving the base at Bardere ahead of an offensive by African Union and Somali government troops.
While al-Shabab have been driven out of most major towns, it still controls much of the countryside. Other parts of Somalia to the east include Puntland which is semi-autonomous, and Somaliland, further east and north, that claims to be independent. Though the Somali government controls many towns, in total it controls only a very small portion of Somalia. Al-Shabab is still able to launch violent attacks not only in the capital Mogadishu but in Kenya as well. In April an al-Shabab attack killed 148 people at Garissa University in the northeast of Kenya. This drone attack comes just a week before the scheduled state visit of President Obama to Kenya.
While the U.S. claims to have killed a number of senior al-Shabab leaders in drone strikes, retired general Michael Flynn was critical of the drone program. Flynn ran the Defense Intelligence Agency from July 2012 through August 2014. Flynn had also previously overseen drone operations in Yemen and Somalia when he was at the Joint Special Operations Command. Flynn said: “When you drop a bomb from a drone … you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good.” When asked whether drone attacks radicalize more terrorists than they kill, he said: “I don’t disagree with that.” The appended video shows an Al-Shabab attack on a mall in Kenya some time ago in September 2013.


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