Pentagon officials say the fighters were being trained for a large-scale attack on U.S. and African Union troops in Somalia.
“On Saturday, March 5, the U.S. military, in self-defense and in defense of our African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) partners, conducted an airstrike in Somalia against Raso Camp, a training facility of al-Shabaab, which is a terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaeda,” said Peter Cook, the Pentagon Press Secretary.
“The strike was conducted using manned and unmanned aircraft. The fighters who were scheduled to depart the camp posed an imminent threat to U.S. and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Somalia, ” he added.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters Monday that an initial assessment indicates that as many as 150 fighters were killed in the airstrikes.
The Raso Camp was located 120 miles north of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where a small contingent of U.S. military personnel are based to enable communications between African Union peacekeeping troops in the country.
Al-Shabaab focuses its attacks in Somalia against African Union targets. In recent years, the U.S. military has carried out airstrikes and special operations raids against al-Shabaab leaders.
Al-Shabaab is responsible for terror attacks on a shopping mall and college in neighboring Kenya that killed dozens.
“The removal of these fighters degrades al-Shabaab's ability to meet the group's objectives in Somalia, including recruiting new members, establishing bases, and planning attacks on U.S. and AMISOM forces," said Cook.