A suspected U.S. drone strike overnight Monday is reported to have hit Islamic extremist group al-Shabab positions in southern Somalia.
Details are unclear, but local officials say the airstrike killed a number of militants — perhaps even a senior commander.
Some reports say the drone strike was aimed at an al-Shabab convoy while others say an al-Shabab training camp in Lower Shabelle was the target.
U.S. military officials have yet to confirm the airstrike, but al-Shabab bases have been a frequent target of U.S. drones.
The airstrikes, along with Africa Union and Somali forces, have seriously weakened al-Shabab as it strives to turn Somalia into a conservative Islamic state. But the group still remains extremely dangerous.
Somalia ‘politically stable and developed’
Meanwhile, the outgoing top U.N. envoy for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, says the country is no longer a failed state, but a recovering, fragile democracy.
“The country in the past two to three years has come together quite significantly. It is both politically stable and developed, as well,” Kay told the Associated Press.
He said Somalia’s political leaders are no longer armed warlords, but heads of regional governments who are more willing to sit down and talk than use guns.
Kay said al-Shabab will not succeed in undermining the progress being made, but the prospect of al-Shabab elements pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group is a real concern.
He also said he expects next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections in Somalia to succeed, despite the government’s misgivings that Islamic insurgents could make voting impossible.
Somalia has been torn by decades of conflict since the 1991 ouster of long-time dictator Siad Barre. Somalia had transitional administrations since 2004 but until the 2012 election of President Hassan Sheik Mohammud, it had not had a functioning central government since 1991.