The U.S. military said it conducted an airstrike Saturday in Somalia, killing at least eight al-Shabab militants.
No civilians were involved in the airstrike near Gandarhse, a coastal area south of Mogadishu, according to the U.S. Africa Command.
The military said the strike was conducted in close coordination with the Somalia government to degrade al-Shabab’s freedom of movement. So far this year, the U.S. military has conducted at least 40 airstrikes against al-Shabab in various parts of Somalia.
Also on Saturday, in the Somali city of Baidoa, chaos and protests continued for a third day over the arrest of Mukhtar Robow, the former deputy leader of al-Shabab, who was a top candidate for the presidency of South West State in upcoming elections.
Robow was arrested Thursday and transferred to Mogadishu. The move angered his supporters, who clashed with police. At least 12 people have been killed, including a lawmaker.
Authorities said at least 200 civilians were arrested following the clashes.
The rights group Amnesty International condemned the killing of civilians in Baidoa.
“Somali and Ethiopian security forces in Baidoa must refrain from using lethal force against protesters. … No one should have to die for simply expressing their views,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International deputy director for East Africa.
African Union forces operating in Somalia (AMISOM) said in a statement that its troops did not help in the arrest of “Mr. Robow and his subsequent transfer to Mogadishu.”
The statement was made after it was reported that Ethiopian troops, who are part of AMISOM, were involved in Robow’s arrest.
Somalia’s Parliament Speaker Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman called on the government on Saturday to release Robow and postpone the regional election, where Robow is competing with other candidates for the presidential post.
The Somalia government accuses Robow of bringing Islamic militants and weapons back to Baidoa, the capital of South West State.