Less than a week after an attack by the militant group al-Shabaab on a Kenyan airfield killed a U.S. soldier and two American contractors, the Defense Department has conducted a deadly airstrike on militants in neighboring Somalia.
According to initial assessments, two terrorists were killed in the attack, according to officials with U.S. Africa Command. The airstrike was executed in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia and conducted in the vicinity of Qunyo Barrow, officials said.
Early assessments indicated no civilians were injured or killed in the strike, according to a release.
"Al-Shabaab presents a threat to America, the African people, and our international partners," Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, AFRICOM's director of operations, said in a release. "They are a known terrorist affiliate of al-Qaeda, who continue to radicalize and actively recruit. Persistent pressure on the network helps prevent its broader spread."
On Dec. 5, al-Shabaab militants attacked Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya, roughly 100 miles from the Somalian border.
Gayler said this week that "incredible heroism and courage" by U.S. and Kenyan forces kept the attack from being even more deadly. In addition to the three Americans killed, two U.S. troops were wounded in the assault.
Thursday's airstrike is the first U.S. strike on al-Shabaab announced by AFRICOM since the attack in Kenya. But it's part of a larger ongoing campaign to eradicate the terrorist group in Somalia. On Dec. 29, three U.S. airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab in Qunyo Barrow and Caliyoow Barrow, Somalia killed four fighters, officials announced.
The strikes came after a horrific truck bomb, attributed to al-Shabaab, killed nearly 80 people in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital.
During a Thursday briefing, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman demurred when asked about specific actions the Defense Department is taking in response to the Manda Bay attack.
"We are continuing to work with Kenya on efforts against al-Shabaab. ... I can't speak to future operations against al-Shabaab, but we are working with our forces in Kenya and our partners there to degrade the threat that is in Kenya," he said.
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.