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.”


Ethiopia says suspects confessed to killing popular singer

Updated 10 July 2020

Ethiopia says suspects confessed to killing popular singer

  • Hachala Hundessa became a symbol of the Oromo struggle during years of anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power in 2018
  • Though Abiy is Ethiopia’s first Oromo head of state, Oromo nationalists accuse him of insufficiently championing their interests since taking office

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia’s attorney general said Friday that two men had confessed to killing a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group as part of a plot to topple Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.
Hachala Hundessa became a symbol of the Oromo struggle during years of anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power in 2018.
His shooting death last week sparked days of protests and ethnic violence that killed 239 people, according to police figures.
“The assassination was intended to be a cover to take power from the incumbent by force,” attorney general Abebech Abbebe said in a statement Friday aired on state television, without providing details.
Though Abiy is Ethiopia’s first Oromo head of state, Oromo nationalists accuse him of insufficiently championing their interests since taking office, a complaint echoed by many protesters last week.
Abebech said that along with the two men who have allegedly confessed to the crime, the government has identified a third suspect who remains on the run.
One of the men in custody identified the masterminds of the alleged plot as members of a rebel group the government believes is affiliated with the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) political party, Abebech said.
The OLF, a former rebel movement, returned to Ethiopia from exile after Abiy took office and has repeatedly disavowed any links to armed insurgents.
The Internet remained shut off Friday for an 11th consecutive day, though Addis Ababa remains calm and Abiy’s office issued a statement saying the surrounding Oromia region had “returned to calm and citizens have resumed normal activities.”
In her statement, however, Abebech said unnamed agitators were calling for additional protests and road blockages in the coming days.
“There are those that have hidden themselves in nice places but are calling on Ethiopian youth to fight each other, close roads and to cease working as part of a rebellion call,” Abebech said.
“Above all we call on our people to disobey this rebellion call and to thwart it.”