Children Rescued from al-Shabab

Children Rescued from al-Shabab

U.S. troops helped Somalia's security forces rescue approximately 30 child conscript soldiers Thursday during a raid on an al-Shabaab camp, a USA military official tells CNN. He said most of the children rescued are those who the militants abducted from nearby villages. A local commander was among those killed, he said.

Human Rights Watch recently reported that al-Shabab militants are forcing communities in remote areas to hand over children as young as eight to be trained as fighters.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said special forces raided the camp in Jame'o village in Middle Shabelle region. The recruitment of children is a long-standing practice of the al-Qaida-linked group which faces growing military pressure across south and central Somalia.

The airstrike took place approximately 50 kilometers northwest of Kismayo and there were no civilian casualties reported, the statement said.

The U.S. military has carried out dozens of airstrikes in Somalia targeting al-Shabab, including several recent strikes that AFRICOM says hit vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and prevented attacks in Mogadishu.

Earlier this week US troops accompanied Somali forces during a patrol in Baar-Sunguuni, Somalia, as part of an effort to "further establish Somali National Security Forces presence in the region and deter al-Shabaab from conducting terrorist activities against the Somali people", US Africa Command told CNN.

Last year, Somalia's Somali-American president vowed that his government would drive the extremist group out of the country.

The group is widely blamed for the country's worst ever bombing which in October left 512 dead.