The US conducted a pair of drone strikes against Islamic State fighters in Somalia on Friday, the first time America has hit the jihadists in the Horn of Africa nation, officials said.
The strikes occurred in northeastern Somalia and killed “several terrorists,” the US military’s Africa Command said in a statement.
According to Voice of America, which cited the chairman of the town of Qandala in the semiautonomous region of Puntland, six missiles hit an Isil base in Buqa village, 60 kilometers (35 miles) away.
“Local residents and pastoralists were shocked and fled from the area,” Jama Mohamed Qurshe told VOA.
AFRICOM spokesman Lieutenant Commander Anthony Falvo said no civilians were in the vicinity of the strikes.
“They struck their intended targets,” he told AFP, noting these were the first anti-Isil air strikes in Somalia.
The first strike occurred around midnight Somalia time (0300 GMT) with the second strike coming at about 11:00 am (1400 GMT).
In recent months, the US has repeatedly hit Somali jihadists from the Shabaab rebel group that is aligned with Al-Qaeda, but Friday’s development marks a significant step in the ever-evolving war against Isil.
“US forces will continue to use all authorised and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats,” AFRICOM said.