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US says airstrike kills 2 militants in Somalia

A Kenya Defense Force soldier in action while confronting Al-Shabab attackers at a campus in Garissa. (Reuters/file)
MOGADISHU/NAIROBI: The US military said on Wednesday it had killed two militants in Somalia in an airstrike targeting Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda-linked militant group that is fighting to topple the UN-backed government.
The military’s Africa Command said the strike took place around 50km west of the capital Mogadishu on Tuesday, and that a “vehicle-borne improvised explosive device” had also been destroyed in the early morning attack.
Last month Washington warned of a threat to its diplomatic staff in Mogadishu and directed all non-essential staff to leave the city.
Al-Shabab was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 and has lost control of most of Somalia’s major towns. But the group retains a strong presence in the south and center and can still carry out major attacks. It was blamed for twin bomb blasts in Mogadishu in October that killed more than 500 people.
5 policemen killed
Meanwhile, five Kenyan policemen were killed in an attack on their vehicle in the northeast county of Mandera near the border with Somalia late on Tuesday, a government official in the area said.
Dozens of Kenyan security personnel have been killed in recent months in the remote lands near the border with Somalia, in raids by the Al-Shabab militants from Somalia. The group claimed responsibility for the latest attack.
Daniel Bundotich, the deputy county commissioner for Mandera South, said those killed included three police reservists, local civilians who usually assist the police and are assigned uniforms and arms.
“The militants also set on fire a police lorry ... The police officers were on patrol along Elwak-Kutolo when they were ambushed,” he told Reuters.
Al-Shabab has also launched other attacks in Kenya targeting civilians, in revenge for Kenya moving its troops into Somalia in late 2011.
The militants aim to topple Somalia’s government, and to drive out African Union peacekeeping troops.