Kenyan army says it kills 52 al-Shabab fighters in Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Kenya's military said Friday it killed 52 fighters with the extremist group al-Shabab during an early morning attack on a camp in neighboring Somalia.

The army destroyed the camp in Badhadhe region of Lower Jubba using ground troops and artillery fire, said military spokesman Col. Joseph Owuoth. An assortment of weapons was recovered at the scene, he said.

Kenyan troops are part of a multinational African Union mission supporting Somalia's weak central government against the homegrown al-Shabab insurgency. Kenya sent troops to Somalia in 2011, and al-Shabab has vowed retribution on Kenya for that.

Kenya's government previously has made claims of battlefield victories against al-Shabab that were disputed by Somali residents.

There was no immediate statement from the extremist group, which Kenya has seen as a growing threat. Al-Shabab has been blamed for more than 100 attacks inside Kenya since it sent troops to Somalia, including the Garissa University attack in April 2015 that killed 148 people.

Al-Shabab, al-Qaida's East African affiliate, has lost territory under pressure from the AU troops, which number about 22,000. But the group continues to carry out suicide bombings and other deadly attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere.

The extremists have increased their attacks in Somalia in recent weeks, leading the government of recently elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to declare a new offensive against the group.

The United States also is stepping up its efforts against al-Shabab. President Donald Trump recently approved an expanded military role in Somalia that includes carrying out more aggressive airstrikes against the group and considering parts of southern Somalia areas of active hostilities.

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