A large military operation against al-Shabaab is underway in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, with locals from a farming village reporting that they’ve heard gunfire and explosions overnight.
Somali officials reported a joint operation involving their own commandos and US ground troops attacking a pair of highway checkpoints under the control of al-Shabaab, and which the group has been using to charge tolls to passing commercial vehicles.
There was more fighting clearly than just the two checkpoints. Locals reported that the whole area has been “sealed off,” including the farming village. The US also reportedly carried out two airstrikes against the area, reportedly destroying a minibus that Somali officials believe was full of explosives.
The US has yet to comment on this latest round of attacks, and there is a conspicuous lack of casualty figures, with no reports yet of any deaths on either side, or civilian casualties. The US and Somali governments always start by denying civilian causalities, of course, but the lack of even that suggests this operation is still very early going.