By Mohammed Dhaysane
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) – Somalia claimed on Saturday to have killed a senior militant leader during a military operation against al-Shabaab terrorists in the country's Lower Shabelle region, as well as freed several civilians who had been held hostage by them.
The Somali National Army (SNA) conducted the military operation, killing al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shahaab terrorist leader Carab, known by his short name, and wounding Osman Daud and Aw Maay, the other senior members of the terrorist organization, according to Daud Aways, the minister for Information, Culture, and Tourism.
The operation was carried out by an elite military unit of the SNA in the al-Shabaab-controlled town of Mubarak, located 95 kilometers (59 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, according to a statement issued by his ministry.
“Special forces of the Somali national army (SNA) have destroyed al-Shabaab’s financial center in Mubarak area of Lower Shabelle region of Southwest State of Somalia, killing the leader of al-Shabaab in the area and wounding nearly a dozen,” the statement said.
During the operation, it freed several civilians who were being held by al-Shabaab in the center, it added.
Residents in Mubarak, where the operation took place, told Anadolu Agency that several civilians were killed and more than a dozen others were injured during the military airstrike.
They were taken to hospitals in Mogadishu for treatment, they added.
The Somali government has not responded to the claim of an airstrike.
While al-Shabaab claimed on its propaganda website that the airstrike in Mubarak late Friday killed at least 10 people and injured 20 more.
Since US President Joe Biden authorized the redeployment of US troops in Somalia, the country has seen an increase in airstrikes against al-Shabaab terrorists, most recently in the Hiran region, which killed more than 14 terrorists.
Somalia has been grappling with increasing insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab being one of the main threats in the Horn of Africa country.
Since at least 2007, al-Shabaab has waged a deadly campaign against the Somali government and international forces that have claimed thousands of lives.
The UN has also warned of growing insecurity in Somalia, detailing attacks by al-Shabaab and pro-Daesh/ISIS groups in its annual report this year.
There were at least 1,518 civilian casualties in terrorist attacks in Somalia in 2018, with 651 killed and 867 injured, and 1,459 killed and 868 injured in 2019, according to the latest UN statistics.