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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Wednesday it had carried out air strikes in Somalia against an al Qaeda-allied Islamist group and killed six militants.

The group, al Shabaab, is fighting to topple Somalia’s Western-backed transitional federal government and impose its own rule on the Horn of Africa country.

The U.S. military's Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a statement it had carried out three air strikes on Wednesday at 2:15 a.m. local time (2315 GMT Tuesday).

"The operation occurred in southern Somalia, about 260 kilometres (162 miles) south of the capital, Mogadishu," the statement said.

Al Shabaab has lost control of most of Somalia’s cities and towns since it was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011. But it retains a strong presence in parts of the south and centre and carries out gun and bomb attacks.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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Reuters