Somali Al-Shebab fighters gather on February 13, 2012 in Elasha Biyaha, in the Afgoei Corridor, after a demonstration to support the merger of Al-shebab and the Al-Qaeda network. Shebab insurgents staged rallies across Somalia on February 13 to celebrate their group's recognition by Osama bin Laden's successor as a member of the Islamist Al-Qaeda network. Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri announced in a video message posted on jihadist forums on February 9, 2012 that Shebab fighters had joined ranks with the Islamist network. AFP PHOTO / Mohamed Abdiwahab (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
Why Al-Shabaab is a growing threat (2015)
01:37 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The U.S. government has conducted two “self-defense” airstrikes in southern Somalia because of an “imminent threat” against American troops in the East African country, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Tuesday.

The airstrikes happened late Monday evening and early Tuesday morning against an Al-Shabaab camp north of the town of Kismayo in southern Somalia, according to a U.S. defense official.

Further details about the strikes weren’t immediately available.

The U.S. military has been helping Somali government and African Union forces battle Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-affiliated militant group that has been waging an insurgency in Somalia for about 10 years with the aim of turning the country into a fundamentalist Islamic state.

The Islamist extremist group hasn’t confined its terror or ambitions to Somalia, as evidenced by other horrific attacks like last year’s massacre at Kenya’s Garissa University College and a 2013 siege of Nairobi’s upscale Westgate Mall.

Last month, U.S. special operations forces and Somali commandos killed at least one senior Al-Shabaab leader and captured an undisclosed number of high-value Al-Shabaab figures during a joint nighttime raid on one of the terror group’s camps, the Somali government said.

CNN’s Don Melvin and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.