Between 150 and 200 Islamic insurgents, including top and mid-level commanders, were killed in the US drone strikes in Somalia at the weekend, the country's security minister said Tuesday.
The attack on an al-Shabaab training camp in the village of Ras in the Hiiraan region north of Mogadishu was carried out Saturday night with the full knowledge of the Somali government, Abdirisak Omar Mohamed told reporters in Mogadishu.
He said the total number killed "could be significantly higher than reported now."
"Several high-ranking and mid-level al-shabaab members were also among the killed by the airstrikes in Ras."
The US drones hovered over the villages of Ras and Dhariyow before the strikes, Bula-barde town commissioner Abdiasis Durow told dpa.
Al-Shabaab have arrested at least 10 locals suspected of helping the US conduct the strikes, Durow said.
Earlier Tuesday, al-Shabaab said reports of a US strike killing 150 of its members at the training camp north of Mogadishu over the weekend were "lies."
It is true that the US conducted airstrikes in the village of Ras in the Hiiraan region on Saturday, but reports of high casualties are "American propaganda," al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Mus’ab told pro-insurgent Radio Andalus.
"As al-Shabaab, we have enough experiences of not deploying such a high numbers of our fighters in one training camp just to avoid imminent attacks against us.
"The Americans want to create propaganda. We have neither lost top commanders or just fighters in the latest airstrike attacks."
The Pentagon said on Monday that a US airstrike struck an al-Shabaab militant camp to prevent an imminent attack on US and African Union forces.
The strike on Saturday, using manned aircraft and drones, hit a terrorist training camp nearly 200 kilometres north of Mogadishu.
The fighters who were scheduled to depart the camp posed an imminent threat to US and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Somalia, spokesman Peter Cook said.
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