U.S. Says Somali 'Bomb-Maker' Killed in Controversial Drone-Strike Program

U.S. Forces in Africa allegedly terminated a high-ranking member of the Islamist terrorist faction Al-Shabab in a drone strike on Thursday.

Al-Shabab, which some reports have connected to the Al-Qaeda terrorist group, has been engaged in battles against the Somalian government, which is backed by the United Nations. Al-Shabab was declared a terrorist faction by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2008. The strike launched by the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) resulted in the death of an individual who was allegedly involved with placing IEDs along a Somalian road. AFRICOM did not name the target of the drone strike.

"In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces use a range of effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people," read a Thursday statement posted by AFRICOM on Twitter. "Together with partner and allied forces, U.S. Africa Command works on a daily basis to improve security conditions to enhance governance and economic development while preventing Al-Shabaab's desire to expand their reach and further export violence."

Newsweek reached out to AFRICOM for further comment.

Along with the Al-Shabab member, the drone strike reportedly destroyed a motorcycle. "U.S. Africa Command currently assesses no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this attack," the statement continued.

Medical staff carry a wounded woman on a stretcher following an Al-Shabab attack in Mogadishu on Sunday. STR/AFP/Getty

Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for terrorist acts in Eastern Africa, including a 2016 attack on a Somalian airbase that resulted in the deaths of approximately 180 soldiers. In 2015, Al-Shabab members attacked Garissa University in Kenya and killed 148 Christian students.

On Sunday, Al-Shabab detonated a car bomb in front of the Elite Hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, before gunmen entered the property. In the attack, 11 people were killed.

Parliament member and hotel owner Abdullahi Mohamed Nor was on the premises when Al-Shabab began their attack. "May Allah have mercy upon those who perished in the attack which terrorists carried out at the Elite Hotel," Nor wrote on his Facebook page. "I was at the hotel when the attack happened, may Allah give a quick recovery for the wounded people. I am safe and sound."

Airstrikes in Somalia by AFRICOM have increased during the administration of President Donald Trump. As of July, there had been 43 airstrikes in the area since the beginning of 2020. In the last ten years total, there had been only 42 airstrikes carried out by U.S. forces in Somalia. Some critics of the airstrike program have said claimed that civilian casualties have resulted from attacks by AFRICOM.

As part of an effort on the part of AFRICOM to be transparent about their operations, AFRICOM has begun releasing a civilian casualty assessment on a quarterly basis. "Our goal is to always minimize impact to civilians," AFRICOM Commander U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend said in the third-quarter report.

According to that report, AFRICOM received 12 allegations of civilian collateral damage related to 4 different incidents. AFRICOM said that only one of the incidents, a February airstrike, resulted in civilians being killed or injured. In at least one case, AFRICOM reported that "no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or at the alleged location."