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U.S. military confirms killing eight militants in airstrikes in Somalia  

MOGADISHU (Xinhua) -- The United States military confirmed Monday its special forces killed eight Al-Shabaab militants in the latest drone strikes carried out on Friday evening in Somalia.

The U.S. Africa Command (Africom) said the operation which also left one vehicle destroyed occurred about 48km northwest of Kismayo in southern Somalia.

“In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against Al-Shabaab militants in the early evening hours on Friday, approximately 30 miles northwest of Kismayo, killing eight terrorists and destroying one vehicle,” Africom said in a statement.

“We assess no civilians were killed in the strike,” it added, noting that the U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats.

The attack comes after Somalia’s defense minister Mohamed Ali Haga said on Friday the country needed increased U.S. drone strikes to counter the militant groups in the country as African Union forces begin to exit the country later this month.

“If we don’t have the support of the Americans, we cannot stand on our own feet. The Somali security sector is still disorganized. And we need more drone strikes because a drone can strike the snake in the head,” Haga said.

The U.S. forces have carried out a series of drone strikes in the past month in Somalia, targeting Islamist States and Al-Shabaab fighters as the African Union peacekeeping mission prepares to exit the country.

Somali and Amisom forces have also intensified military operations against the insurgents, flushing them in their Lower and Middle Shabelle region bases amid an expected recall of 1,000 African Union troops by end of December.


UNHCR repatriates 74,141 Somali refugees from Kenya

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency said Monday it has repatriated some 74,141 Somali refugees from Kenya as at Nov. 15 since the voluntary return exercise began three years ago.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its bi-weekly update released in Nairobi that some 32, 478 refugees were supported to return to their home in Somalia in 2017 alone.

The UN refugee said a total of 71,792 individuals from Dadaab refugee camp in northeast Kenya had been assisted in the framework of voluntary return to Somalia since the launch of voluntary repatriation on December 8, 2014.

“As at Nov. 15, there were 18,140 refugees registered in our database willing to return to Somalia, with 12,874 being registered in 2017 alone,” the UN agency said.

The UNHCR also confirmed the resumption of voluntary return by road was cleared by the Kenyan government, however due to heavy rains, roads are not passable on the Somalia side.

According to the UN agency, a total of 4,949 non-Somali refugees were relocated to Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya. “The relocation is currently suspended due to the limited absorption capacity and services in Kalobeyei,” it said.

Kenya, which hosted protracted negotiations that culminated in the formation of the transitional federal government of Somalia, says the refugee situation continues to pose security threats to Nairobi and the region apart from the humanitarian crisis.

The East African nation which has been planning to close the Dadaab refugee camp, has cited the influence of terror group Al-Shabaab as among the risks of keeping the camps open.

An estimated two million Somalis have been displaced in one of the world’s most protracted humanitarian crises that have now entered its third decade.

An estimated 1.1 million people are internally displaced (IDPs) within Somalia and nearly 900,000 are refugees in the region.

Experts say continuing political and security stabilization progress in Somalia, along with growing pressures in hosting countries, makes this a critical moment to renew efforts to find durable solutions for Somali refugees.



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