US forces in Africa have launched an airstrike against the Islamic State group in Somalia, just weeks after another strike killed the jihadist group's second in command there, a military statement said Saturday.
Three IS militants were killed in the strike Friday in the Golis Mountains in northern Somalia, the US Africa Command, or Africom, said in the statement. No civilians were killed or wounded, it said.
"This airstrike eliminated ISIS-Somalia members staged in a remote location in northern Somalia," said Major General Gregg Olson, Africom's director of operations, using the abbreviation for the Islamic State in Somalia.
"Removing these extremists impacts ISIS-Somalia's ability to terrorize innocent Somalis in the region and it creates confusion within the terrorist network." The Islamic State has a relatively small presence in Somalia compared to the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab.
But IS has been particularly active in the northern Puntland region, where its fighters have established training camps and depots for weapons coming mainly from nearby Yemen.
The Shebab, by far the largest radical Islamist group in Somalia, officially integrated into Al-Qaeda in 2012. But a small number of its members -- around 200 -- defected to the IS.
That group, based in semi-autonomous Puntland, is led by Abdulqadir Mumin, who in August 2016 was placed by the US State Department on a list of international terrorists.
IS in Somalia has been the target of previous airstrikes.
Africa Command says its April 14 strike in Somalia killed IS's second in command there, Abdulhakim Dhuqub, who was in charge of the group's attack planning and daily operations.
As of late 2018, Africom put the number of IS fighters in Somalia at between 75 and 250 -- a small number compared to the estimated 3,000 to 7,000 Shebab members.
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