Somali Forces, Backed by U.S., Kill Shabab Militants in Raid

NAIROBI , Kenya — United States forces assisted Somali commandos in killing several members of the Shabab militant group in an attack last w...

NAIROBI, Kenya — United States forces assisted Somali commandos in killing several members of the Shabab militant group in an attack last week, an American military spokesman said on Tuesday, but it was not clear whether any high-level operatives had been eliminated.

The raid took place last Wednesday, when a contingent of elite American troops acting as military advisers accompanied Somali forces in an assault on a Shabab checkpoint in Saakow, a remote outpost in southern Somalia that has become a notorious hide-out for the militants.

As the Somali-led force approached the checkpoint, the militants opened fire, setting off a gun battle, said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for the United States military’s Africa Command. Three Shabab militants were killed; no American soldiers were hurt.

“U.S. advisers accompanied the Somali-led force, which is standard for what we do in that area,” said Commander Falvo, who added that the American forces were armed but did not participate in the firefight.

The Shabab, a Somali militant organization that has sworn allegiance to Al Qaeda, run several illegal checkpoints in Saakow, where they raise funds by taxing residents and merchants for moving goods through the area.

Rumors have been circulating in Nairobi that the Shabab’s leader, Abu Ubaidah, was killed in an American strike in Saakow last week. But Commander Falvo said that the American military was assessing the results from the operation, and that it was too early to determine whether any senior Shabab commanders had been killed.

The Somali news media reported that a second raid was conducted in Saakow on Saturday. Commander Falvo said he did not have any information about such an operation. He added that if there had been a raid, no American military forces were involved.

Somalia remains in a dangerous state of limbo, with a weak central government and hundreds if not thousands of Shabab fighters operating across the country.

The nation, one of the world’s poorest, is scheduled to hold an election this year to choose its Parliament and president, but security fears and the decrepit state of public institutions mean that citizens will not vote directly. Instead, clan elders will select delegates, who will then choose the politicians.

Somalia has lurched from crisis to crisis since 1991, when the central government collapsed and warlords from different clans fought over the spoils.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died from famine, disease and conflict. In recent years, the Shabab have killed countless civilians in Somalia, Kenya and Uganda.

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Today in Kenya: Somali Forces, Backed by U.S., Kill Shabab Militants in Raid
Somali Forces, Backed by U.S., Kill Shabab Militants in Raid
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