A Somali security officer runs in front of a government building under attack by al-Shabaab militants in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Tuesday. Picture: EPA/SAID YUSUF WARSAME
A Somali security officer runs in front of a government building under attack by al-Shabaab militants in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Tuesday. Picture: EPA/SAID YUSUF WARSAME

Mogadishu — The US military said on Wednesday it had killed two militants in Somalia in an air strike targeting al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group that is fighting to topple the UN-backed government.

The military’s Africa Command said the strike took place about 50km west of the capital Mogadishu on Tuesday, and that a "vehicle-borne improvised explosive device" had also been destroyed in the early morning attack.

In December Washington warned of a threat to its diplomatic staff in Mogadishu and directed all non-essential staff to leave the city.

Al-Shabaab was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 and has lost control of most of Somalia’s largest towns. But the group retains a strong presence in the south and centre and can still carry out attacks. It was blamed for twin bomb blasts in Mogadishu in October that killed more than 500 people.

The militants aim to topple Somalia’s government, to drive out African Union peacekeeping troops and to impose the group’s own strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Reuters