U.S. military says airstrike in Somalia kills three al Shabaab fighters

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The U.S. military killed three members of Islamist militant group al Shabaab in an airstrike in Somalia conducted with government forces, the U.S. Africa Command said on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s strike took place in Bay region, some 75 km west of the capital, Mogadishu, and also involved help from peacekeepers from the African Union Mission in Somalia.

“The Department of Defense conducted a precision airstrike in central Somalia against al Shabaab militants on ... Sept. 5 at approximately 9:50 a.m. local Somalia time, killing three terrorists,” it said.

Al Shabaab, which is linked to al Qaeda, has lost control of most of Somalia’s cities and towns since it was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011. It retains a strong presence in parts of the south and center and carries out gun and bomb attacks.

The group aims to topple the government, drive out African Union peacekeeping troops and impose its own harsh interpretation of Islamic law. In March, U.S. President Donald Trump granted new authority for increased airstrikes in Somalia.

Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg