US airstrike in Somalia kills 26 Al Shabab

The United States military on Friday said it had killed 26 fighters with the Al Shabab extremist group with an airstrike in central Somalia, after a pair of strikes earlier this week killed 55.

The US has carried out 24 such strikes so far this year, more than half the number in all of 2018. Several have had death tolls in the double digits, including one in mid-January that killed 52 fighters and one in late January that killed 24.

A US Africa Command statement said the attack occurred Thursday in the Hiran region, where earlier strikes had also taken place. When asked why recent strikes have been deadlier, a spokeswoman said Somali and “partner forces continue to make incursions into territory formerly controlled by Al Shabab,” giving them chances to collect more intelligence and develop targets.

The new airstrike was announced shortly after Somali authorities said a deadly overnight siege by Al Shabab had ended in the capital, Mogadishu, with all attackers killed. At least 24 people were killed with more than 50 others wounded, many of them critically.