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U.S. drones strike Al Shabaab in Somalia

3 Al Shabaab targets hit in the southern port city of Kismayo
Somalia drone 2011 9 25Enlarge
U.S. drones targeted Al Shabaab militants in a series of attacks in Kismayo, Somalia this weekend. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The United States launched drone strikes against the anti-government group Al Shabaab in southern Somalia this weekend.

An official from the Al Qaeda-allied militant group and local residents confirmed three targets were hit in the southern port city Kismayo, Reuters reported. The city is currently controlled by Al Shabaab.

A surveillance drone crashed in Kismayo, though reports differ on whether it was shot down by militants or crashed due to a technical glitch.

The U.S. embassy in Nairobi has so far declined to comment on the recent series of attacks.

Kismayo is of key importance to Al Shabaab because the city provides taxes to the militant group for its operations and is a gateway for goods reaching areas under their control, according to the BBC.

Related: U.S. building drone bases in East Africa

Renewed violence has plagued the famine-stricken country for the past four years, when Al Shabaab began its insurgency against the West-backed ruling government.  Since then, more than 21,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

Though drone strikes are far more extensive in Pakistan and Afghanistan, attacks have been reported in Somalia before. In July this year Al Jazeera reported the first strike against Al Shabaab in East Africa, which wounded two leaders of the militant group.

More from GlobalPost: U.S. intensifies drone attacks

The Wall Street Journal reported last week the United States is escalating its drone war in East Africa. New installations in Ethiopia and Seychelles will launch drones into Somalia and Yemen to strike militant groups based there.

U.S. officials have warned that the success of the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan might push Al Qaeda’s base of operations west to the Horn of Africa.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa-emerges/drone-attack