KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Uganda’s military says it killed 189 suspected Islamic extremists with al-Shabab in Somalia in a “surprise, swift” attack that targeted a meeting of members of the armed group.
The army said in a statement Friday that its contingent of African Union troops in Somalia raided al-Shabab “hideouts in the thickets of Sigaale village” about 100 kilometers southwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
The statement said the operation, including in other villages in the Lower Shabelle region, destroyed military hardware belonging to the extremists and resulted in the arrests of two al-Shabab commanders who were handed over to the Somali army.
Ugandan troops “did not incur any loss or injury, nor did any civilian target get affected,” the statement said, citing Brig. Don Nabasa, a Ugandan commander on the ground.
A spokesman for Uganda’s army, Lt. Col. Deo Akiiki, told The Associated Press that the Friday morning operation involved ground and aerial assaults.
It was not immediately possible to verify the reported death toll.
The Western-backed deployment of African troops helped to push al-Shabab out of Mogadishu and other areas years ago, though the extremists are still capable of launching lethal bomb attacks targeting public places.
Al-Shabab, which opposes the presence of foreign troops in Somalia, continues to hold sway over parts of the country’s central and southern regions.
The 19,000-strong multinational AU force is set to withdraw from Somalia by the end of the year and hand over responsibility for the country’s security to Somali forces.