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U.S. says conducts air strike in Somalia, killing five militants

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Monday it had killed five militants after launching an air strike in Somalia against al Shabaab, a militant Islamist group allied with al Qaeda.

The military's Africa Command (Africom) said the strike was carried out on April 1 near El Bur, a town in the semi-autonomous Somali region of Galmudug.

"We assess no civilians were killed in this air strike," Africom said in a statement.

Al Shabaab was not immediately reachable for comment.

The United States has ramped up operations in the Horn of Africa country since last year after President Donald Trump loosened the rules of engagement.

Since withdrawing from the capital Mogadishu in 2011, the insurgents lost control of most of Somalia's cities and towns. But they retain a strong presence in regions outside the capital.

On Sunday they battled with African Union troops for hours after exploding two car bombs outside one of their bases, according to Somali police and military.

(Writing by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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