Jan. 19 (UPI) -- U.S. forces launched an airstrike Saturday in Somalia to support the Somali government's efforts to fight al-Shabab militants linked to terror attacks.
The airstrike near Jilib, Middle Juba Region, Somalia killed 52 militants, a U.S. Africa Command said in a statement.
The operation came in response to an attack by a large group of al-Shabab militants against Somalia National Forces, according to the statement.
"Alongside our Somali and international partners, we are committed to preventing al-Shabaab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia," the statement said. "In particular, the group uses portions of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radical terrorists."
The Reporter Ethiopia reported Saturday that country's Ministry of Defense confirmed al-Shabab forces recently attacked a convoy carrying Ethiopian soldiers on a peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
The attack targeted a convoy traveling from Burahakaba to Baidoa, according to a statement the ministry sent to The Reporter. Though military members were able to avert the attack, the ministry argued defense forces have been weakened as a result of defending themselves from al-Shabab attacks.