US airstrike in Somalia kills 52 Al-Shabab extremists

The US military says it has carried out an airstrike in Somalia that killed 52 Al-Shabab extremists in response to an attack on Somali forces. (AFP/ File)
Updated 19 January 2019

US airstrike in Somalia kills 52 Al-Shabab extremists

  • The US Africa Command said the airstrike occurred near Jilib in Middle Juba region
  • l-Shabab via its Shahada news agency claimed that its attack on two Somali army bases killed at least 41 soldiers

JOHANNESBURG: The US military on Saturday said it had carried out its deadliest airstrike in Somalia in months, killing 52 Al-Shabab extremists after a “large group” mounted an attack on Somali forces.
The US Africa Command said the airstrike occurred near Jilib in Middle Juba region. There were no reports of Americans killed or wounded.
The US statement did not say whether any Somali forces were killed or wounded by the Al-Qaeda-linked extremists. Al-Shabab via its Shahada news agency asserted that its attack on two Somali army bases killed at least 41 soldiers. It described the location as the Bar Sanjuni area near the port city of Kismayo.
There was no immediate comment from Somalia’s government.
In neighboring Ethiopia, state television cited the defense ministry as saying more than 60 Al-Shabab fighters had been killed and that four vehicles loaded with explosives had been “destroyed.” Ethiopia contributes troops to a multinational African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia and has troops there independently under Ethiopian army command.
Al-Shabab controls large parts of rural southern and central Somalia and continues to carry out high-profile suicide bombings and other attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere.
The Islamic extremist group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on a luxury hotel complex in the capital of neighboring Kenya on Tuesday, the latest high-toll assault inside that county in retaliation for Kenya sending troops to Somalia to fight Al-Shabab.
The United States has dramatically stepped up airstrikes against Al-Shabab in Somalia since President Donald Trump took office, carrying out at least 47 such strikes last year. Some have targeted top Al-Shabab leaders or key financial officials; the extremist group funds its attacks with an extensive network of “taxation” and extortion.
In October, the US said an airstrike killed about 60 fighters near the Al-Shabab-controlled community of Harardere in Mudug province in the central part of the country.
The airstrikes hamper the extremist group but have not “seriously degraded Al-Shabab’s capability to mount strikes either inside or outside Somalia,” Matt Bryden of Sahan Research, an expert on the extremists, told The Associated Press after the Nairobi hotel attack.
Airstrikes alone cannot defeat the extremists, Bryden said, and must be combined with more ground-based attacks as well as a non-military campaign to win over residents of extremist-held areas.
The US on Saturday said it is committed to “preventing Al-Shabab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia.”


Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

Updated 37 min 11 sec ago

Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

  • The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year
  • The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest

NEW DELHI: An alleged rape victim in northern India who was set on fire while heading to a court hearing in the case has died in a New Delhi hospital, officials said Saturday.
The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year, police said. The two were out of custody on bail.
Five men were arrested in connection with the burn attack, police said.
The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest, said Dr. Shalab Kumar, head of the hospital’s burn unit.
Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, said that the case would be heard in a fast track court and that the “strictest of punishment will be given to the culprits.”
Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the opposition Congress party, faulted the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for failing to provide the woman with security, even after a similar case in the state in which a woman who accused a BJP lawmaker of rape was severely injured in a vehicle hit-and-run incident.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is known for its poor record regarding crimes against women. According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered more than 4,200 cases of rape in the state in 2017 — the most in India.
Government figures for 2017 also show that police registered 33,658 cases of rape in the country. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t report cases to police due to fear.
Indian courts also seem to be struggling to deal with these cases. Data shows that more than 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts.
The burn victim’s death came on the same day police in the southern state of Telangana fatally shot four men being held on suspicion of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian after investigators took them to the crime scene. Their deaths drew both praise and condemnation in a case that has sparked protests across the country.
The woman’s burned corpse was found last week by a passer-by near the city of Hyderabad, India’s tech hub, after she went missing the previous night.
Police took the four suspects, who had not been charged with any crime, to the scene to help them locate the victim’s phone and other items, officials said. They said the men grabbed police firearms and began shooting, and were killed when police returned fire.
The Telangana High Court ordered authorities to preserve the bodies of the suspects and submit a video of the autopsies ahead of a court hearing set for Monday.
Separately, the National Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body within India’s Parliament, sent a fact-finding mission to the crime scene and mortuary where the suspects’ bodies were held on Saturday amid questions from opposition lawmakers about the circumstances of the suspects’ deaths.