The U.S. military says it has carried out an airstrike in Somalia that killed two al-Shabab extremists and destroyed a vehicle carrying explosives, “preventing it from being used against the people in Mogadishu.”
The U.S. Africa Command statement says the airstrike occurred early Tuesday about 31 miles west of the capital. It says no civilians were killed.
Last year, President Trump declared parts of Somalia a warzone. Since then, the U.S. has conducted dozens of drone strikes trying to stop the ruthless al-Shabab militants rein of terror. The U.S. carried out more than 30 drone strikes last year against al-Shabab, and fighters linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), after the Trump administration approved expanded operations in the Horn of Africa nation.
CBS News correspondent Debora Patta reports that even in a city accustomed to death and destruction, the October bombing in Mogadishu was on a scale never seen in Somalia.
Now, says Patta, there is a new security nightmare, which helps explain the new focus by the Trump administration on the threat in east Africa: The laptop bomb that al-Shabab continues to try and perfect.
In file CCTV footage, two men are seen entering Mogadishu’s airport. One is carrying a laptop, and he slips the computer to the bomber. The man was the head of Mogadishu’s airport security at the time. The laptop exploded shortly after takeoff and blew a hole in the side of the plane. Only the bomber was killed, but in the past 18 months, three other computers bombs were found after one partially exploded in a cargo hold.
New multi-layered security checks, including dogs trained to sniff out explosives, are supposed to stop bombs like that getting onto aircraft, but as Patta reports, al-Shabab still has people on the inside.
“The biggest problem we have is that no matter who it is, from the airport manager to the cleaner, everybody has to follow the security,” said deputy head of security Said Eliye.
Intelligence officials have told CBS News that al-Shabab will continue to make laptop bombs until they get it right. They have bomb-making factories around the country and in Mogadishu, and they can blend easy into local communities.