Officials say US airstrike kills telecom worker in Somalia

By ABDI GULED | Associated Press | Published: February 25, 2020

MOGADISHU, Somalia — A U.S. military airstrike has killed a worker for a telecom company in Somalia, officials in the country said Tuesday.

Mohamud Haji Sirad, 55, a local manager of Hormuud, Somalia's largest telecom company, was killed when two missiles struck his farm on the outskirts of the rebel-held town of Jilib on Monday, Somali officials said.

Both the U.S. Africa Command and Somalia's government said the airstrike killed a member of the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group. But officials at Hormuud said the airstrike killed their local manager in Jilib.

A Somali intelligence official said the man targeted by the airstrike appeared to have been on the security radar, but he declined to confirm whether officials were aware that their target was a telecom worker. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Somali authorities have long accused some businessmen of having ties with al-Shabab, which extorts significant amounts of money from businesses to finance its activities in the Horn of Africa nation.

The U.S. Africa Command statement said that "we currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike" that was carried out in coordination with Somalia's government.

The United States has carried out a growing number of airstrikes against al-Shabab during President Donald Trump's administration. Some have been followed by allegations of civilians killed.

The U.S. says it carried out 63 airstrikes in Somalia last year. At least a dozen have been carried out this year against al-Shabab.

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