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Three helicopters today targeted an al-Shabaab training camp in Taabta village, 20 kilometers west of Qoqani district in Lower Juba, witnesses and government officials - although the defence minister said he was unaware of any action.
Residents in Qoqani told Somalia Report that they could hear helicopters hovering over the area and then blasts. Shortly thereafter they heard gunfire as militants tried to defend against the attack.
“There was a heavy gunfire between the two sides and the helicopters returned. In the last days we could hear the sounds of airplanes,” said a resident in Qoqani.
A TFG military officer in Dhobley district, who requested anonymity, confirmed the attack to Somalia Report and says a friendly government conducted the strike.
“I can’t give you more information, but we have been aware the attack. Helicopters from our friends were involved the strike. It was a successful mission. I’m sure the terrorists were slain in that camp,” said the officer.
A senior TFG security official, Mohamed Hassan Bulle, said the strikes took place at around 2-3 am local time.
“The men (al-Shabaab) ... suffered heavy casualties in the aerial attacks,” Mohamed told Somalia Report. “All that we have confirmed now is four foreign al-Shabaab were killed and on the Somali side it is now passing the 24 mark.”
However, the Somali Defence Minister Abdihakim Hajji Fiqi, said he was unaware of the latest action.
“We are not aware of that aerial attack, but we were aware of the previous attack,” Fiqi told Somalia Report. “We do not wish to comment on these attacks, but we shall confirm the nations involved soon.”
Last week, airstrikes hit al-Shabaab camps near Kismayo, allegedly by the US and 'partner' countries.
Somalia Report has learned that the much of current activity is a direct result of intelligence gathered from the possessions of the recently killed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who was high level al-Qaeda member and wanted by the US for masterminding attacks on US targets in the region.
Al-Shabaab is yet to comment on the airstrikes.