Somalia Al-Shabaab disputes numbers ‘martyred’ in US airstrike

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Somalia’s Al-Shabaab insurgents said Tuesday that “several” fighters had been killed in a US air strike on their training camp, but disputed Washington’s claims that 150 were killed.

“The enemy fired several missiles during the evening and there are several martyred mujahedeen members”, said senior Al-Shabaab commander Sheik Ibrahim Abu-Ahmed, but he added that the US military’s toll was “completely false.”While the US military regularly conducts operations targeting the Al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Somalia, Saturday’s raid had a higher toll than all previous such US strikes combined.

Warplanes and unmanned drones were used in the strike, about 195km north of Mogadishu.

The Al-Shabaab, which responded to Saturday’s strike by rounding up and arresting locals, according to witnesses, said it would not be cowed by the strikes.

“It is not new that the enemy carries out such cowardly organised attacks from the sky but it only takes us close to God — it is already the will of the mujahedeen fighters to be killed and win martyrdom,” Abu-Ahmed said.

Nearby residents, close to Saturday’s attack in central Somalia’s Hiiraan region, reported hearing missiles strike the camp.

“There were at least seven loud explosions in the area,” said Abdukadir Hussein, a resident at a nearby village.

Abdulahi Ahmed, an elder in nearby Bulobarde town, said he had reports that more than 10 people had since been arrested by Al-Shabaab gunmen.

“The Al-Shabaab have restricted all movement in and out of the attack site,” he added.

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