Mogadishu, Sep 20 (EFE).- A military operation in the central Somalian region of Hiran has killed more than 100 militants and freed a village occupied by Islamist fighters for 13 years, the government said on Tuesday.
The US-backed offensive against the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militant organization began over the weekend and continued this week.
“Air support from the United States assisted the operation led by the (Somali National Army) SNA,” the ministry of information said in a statement.
The slain militants were “terrorizing” the local population in the Yasoman and Aborey villages of the Hiran region, the ministry said.
The government appreciated the US “for its continued support in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.”
The Somali army declared the strategic Booco town “liberated” from the al-Shabab group that controlled the village, 50 km south of the regional capital Beledweyne.
“The area (was) under the control of terrorists for 13 years,” the army said.
Hiran Governor Ali Jeyte Osman said several “terrorist were killed” in the exchange of fire between the militants and the army before the Booco village was liberated.
“It is the end of al-Shabab era in our province,” the governor told Somali National News Agency (Sonna).
The army also retook Sina-dhaqo village, 35 km south of Dhusamareb town, from the militant group, killing scores of Islamist fighters.
In the recent operations against al-Shabab, the army has recaptured over 30 villages, the news agency reported.
The major offensive against the Islamist militants came in the backdrop of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declaring a “total war” against al-Shabab in August 2022.
The group staged a deadly hotel siege in the capital Mogadishu that killed 21 people and wounded more than 100 others.
The militant group has often claimed responsibility for the attacks in the capital.
The al-Qaeda affiliate aims to expel all foreign forces from Somalia and establish a strict Islamic state.
Somalia has been in a state of war since 1991 when the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre left the country without an effective government and vulnerable to Islamic militants, warlords, and criminal groups.
The group controls rural areas of central and southern Somalia and also conducts attacks in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia. EFE