Mortar attack rocks US secret air base in Somalia
MOGADISHU – Somali armed group al Shabaab has fired mortar shells into an airbase in Balidogle town where American trainers are present.
The attack occurred shortly after midnight Thursday, causing no casualties, according to local radio based in the capital, Mogadishu.
Balidogle airport is located about 110 km northwest of Mogadishu where U.S. marines offer training to Somali National Army fighting against Al Shabaab.
On Feb 17, 2019, the al Qaeda linked group Al Shabaab claimed to have killed three US soldiers and 5 five other Somali especial commandos after a mortar attack on the Balidogle airbase.
But, the US military denied all claims, saying none of its soldiers were killed or injured in the attack.
Balidogle was described as a training base for Somali especial commandos. The trainers were reported to be U.S. contractors working for Bancroft Global Development.
Last year, the U.S. Defense Department awarded a more than $12 million contract for “emergency runway repairs” at Balidogle base in Somalia.
The new runway repairs appear to be stepping up the capabilities of the airfield there and could be the harbinger of an expanding U.S. footprint in Somalia.
The U.S. military has increased its air and ground offensives against al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab since President Donald Trump took office in 2017.
Last year, one U.S. soldier was killed and four more were wounded during an attack by al-Shabaab militants that consisted of small-arms fire and mortars.
That attack occurred near Kismayo town, some 500km south of Somali capital Mogadishu.
The United States has carried out more than 15 airstrikes against al-Shabab militants in Somalia this year