US strikes hit jihadist’s Somalia training camp

US strikes hit jihadist’s Somalia training camp

WASHINGTON – The Associated Press
US strikes hit jihadist’s Somalia training camp

AP Photo

U.S. airstrikes bombarded an al-Shabab training camp in Somalia on March 5, killing more than 150 militant fighters who were preparing to launch a large-scale attack, likely against African or U.S. personnel, the Pentagon said on March 7.

Multiple drones and manned aircraft launched missiles and bombs on the site, called Raso Camp, which the U.S. had been watching for several weeks, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

Warplanes and unmanned drones were used in the strike, about 195 kilometers north of capital Mogadishu.

“We know they were going to be departing the camp and they posed an imminent threat to U.S. and [the African Union] forces,” Davis was quoted as saying by AFP, noting that as many as 200 fighters had been using the camp.

News of the attack came as the White House announced March 7 that it will disclose how many people have been killed by American drones and other counterterrorism strikes since 2009, when U.S. President Barack Obama took office.

Lisa Monaco, Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, said the report would be released “in the coming weeks,” casting it as part of a commitment to transparency for U.S. actions overseas. Monaco said the figures would be disclosed annually in the future, although it will ultimately be up to Obama’s successor to decide whether to continue the practice.

The report is to include both combatants and civilians the U.S. believes have died in strikes. It will not cover major warzones like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, but will focus on strikes against extremist targets in other regions such as Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and other locations in North Africa.

“We know that not only is greater transparency the right thing to do, it is the best way to maintain the legitimacy of our counterterrorism actions and the broad support of our allies,” Monaco said at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Pentagon on March 7 provided some details about the Somalia strike, which happened during the early evening there. Davis said it appeared that the training was about to come to an end, and the operational phase of a suspected attack was about to start. Military forces from the U.S. and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are routinely working in the country, and Davis said they could have been the targets of al-Shabab’s planned attack.