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100-plus Islamic militants killed by U.S. airstrikes in Somalia

WASHINGTON >> The U.S. military killed more than 100 people identified by the Pentagon as being affiliated with the Islamic militant group al-Shabab, continuing a stepped-up pace of strikes against targets in Somalia, officials said today.

U.S. Africa Command said in a statement that the airstrike was carried out 125 miles northwest of Mogadishu, the Somali capital. The strike comes after President Donald Trump relaxed restrictions on U.S. military commanders in Somalia.

Separately, U.S. Africa Command also said that it conducted two airstrikes in Libya against Islamic State group militants, on Friday and Sunday. Defense officials did not say how many people were killed in those strikes.

The Trump administration has stepped up its campaign to defeat al-Shabab, the group responsible for the 2013 attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The siege on the upscale mall, where dozens were killed, heightened U.S. concerns that al-Shabab’s desire to inflict casualties extended beyond Somalia.

For more than a decade, the United States has been trying to fight al-Shabab through economic sanctions, missile strikes and commando raids. In 2014, former President Barack Obama increased efforts, and a U.S. drone strike killed the leader of al-Shabab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, one of the most wanted men in Africa at the time.

But the organization has come back, and continues to prove itself to be a potent and resilient killing force.

In the past year the Pentagon has doubled the number of troops in Somalia to about 500, many of them Special Operations forces dispatched to train and advise Somali army and counterterrorism troops, and to conduct clandestine kill-or-capture raids of their own.

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