The Saturday strike, using both manned aircraft and unmanned MQ-9 Reaper drones, targeted al Shabaab’s “Raso” training camp, a facility about 120 miles north of the capital Mogadishu, the Pentagon said.
The US military had been monitoring the camp for several weeks before the strike and had gathered intelligence, including about an imminent threat posed by those in the camp to U.S. forces and African Union peacekeepers, officials said.
US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James described the strike as “defensive” in nature.
“There was intelligence … these fighters would soon be embarking upon missions that would directly impact the US and our partners,” James told reporters.
Two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the targets were US forces and African Union fighters in Somalia , but declined to offer additional details.
Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the United States believed the threat was “imminent” and that the fighters were poised to soon depart the camp.
Al Shabaab could not be reached for comment.
Somalia ‘s Foreign Minister Abdusalam Omer said the Somali intelligence agency had provided information about the camp to the United States in the run-up to the attack.
“There has to be intelligence on the ground for this to happen. Our intelligence had helped,” Omer told Reuters.
The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union peacekeeping forces in 2011 but has remained a potent antagonist in Somalia , launching frequent attacks in its bid to overthrow the Western-backed government.
The group, whose name means “The...