US troops for Libya, escalation in Somalia

The US military will keep an unspecified number of ground troops in Libya to help local forces further degrade the ISIS faction there, and also seeks greater scope to target insurgents in Somalia, Africa Command chief Gen. Thomas Waldhauser told reporters at the Pentagon March 24. "We're going to maintain a force that has the ability to develop intelligence, work with various groups as required, or be able to assist if take out ISIS targets," said Gen. Waldhauser, boasting that the ISIS presence in coastal Libya has fallen below 200 from an estimated 5,000 only a year ago. In Somalia, where al-Qaeda affiliate Shabaab remains a threat, Waldhauser hopes the Trump White House will loosen rules of engagement established by the Obama administration to avoid "collateral damage." "I think the combatant commanders, myself included, are more than capable of making judgments and determinations on some of these targets," he said. (Military Times, March 24)

US sends more troops to Somalia

The US is sending additional troops to Somalia to train the Somali National Army and forces participating in the African Union mission there.  US Africa Command confirmed the deployment of "a few dozen troops from the 101st Airborne Division," allegedly "at the request and in close coordination with" the government of Somalia. (CNN)

Hundreds of casualties in Somalia's worst terrorist attack

At least 230 are reported dead among some 500 casualties of a truck-bomb blast in Mogadishu. The explosive-laden truck was apparently being pursuied by police when it detnated in the midst of a traffic jam. No group has yet claimed responsibility for what is being called Somalia's deadliest attack since the Shabaab began its insurgency in 2008. (Garowe)

At least 20 dead in Mogadishu terror

At least 20 people have been killed and 17 wounded in explosions followed by heavy gunfire in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. At least two car bombs went off near the popular Sahafi Hotel. A third explosion later hit the busy street. (Al Jazeera)