A training camp in Somalia for Islamist militants belonging to the group al-Shabab has been pulverized by American warplanes, killing about 150 fighters who U.S. officials say were preparing to attack American troops in East Africa, The New York Times reports.
The airstrikes occurred on March 7, hitting a training facility 120 miles north of Mogadishu while Shabab militants were in the middle of a graduation ceremony. According to a U.S. official, they were “standing outdoors in formation” when the precision-guided bombs fell.
Captain Jeff Davies, a Pentagon spokesman, told The New York Times that the militants were “nearing the completion” of training, and that they had been preparing for a “large-scale attack.”
American special operations soldiers currently operating in Somalia and their regional allies were apparently the intended target of the foiled attack.
Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, is the group responsible for the 2013 attacks on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which killed at least 67 people and wounded more than 175. In the past two months, the group has ramped up operations in Somalia, killing more than 150 people.
According to The New York Times, some experts believe al-Shabab is competing with the Islamic State for influence in the region; though, in this case, the enemy of our enemy is still our enemy.