Al-Shabaab can hit planes at low altitudes, US warns Kenyans

The weapon often used is a "man portable air defense systems"

TOPSHOT - A Somali soldier holds a machine gun at Sanguuni military base, where an American special operations soldier was killed by a mortar attack on June 8, about 450 km south of Mogadishu, Somalia, on June 13, 2018. (MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB/AFP via Getty Images)

The American government has warned civilian airlines to be cautious when using the popular aviation route through northeastern Kenya and Somalia.

According to the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Al-Shabaab remains in possession of weapons capable of hitting aircraft at low altitudes of up to 25,000 feet, putting at risk arrival and departure phases of flights.

“Such weapons could target aircraft at low altitudes, including during the arrival and departure phases of flight, and/or target airports and aircraft on the ground, especially at airfields located east of 40 degrees east longitude,” read a statement in part.

Flights operating between the United Arab Emirates (UAE), China, India and other far East countries often use that route that passes through counties such as Garissa as they exit into neighbouring Somalia.

US confirms carrying airstrikes against Al-Shabaab

The warning comes after the US government recently conducted an airstrike in Somalia targeting the al-Qaeda linked group.

The airstrike by the U.S. Africa Command Forces, the first in 2022 after the Trump administration withdrew its troops from Somalia, targeted Al-Shabaab fighters in Dububle after they attacked Somali partner forces on Tuesday, February 22.

The U.S Africa Command pointed out that the Somali Federal Government and the U.S. prided themselves in fighting Al-Shabaab to prevent the deaths of civilians, unlike the group which regularly conducts indiscriminate attacks on civilian population.

Al-Shabaab has publicly declared intent to conduct attacks in retaliation for Kenya’s counter-terrorism operations in Somalia, which it conducts as part of the African Union Mission (Amisom).

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