Al-Shabab commander 'killed in Somalia air strike'

The US military has said it carried out a drone strike in Somalia that killed a member of the al-Shabab extremist group, while Somalia's government said it believes the strike killed a high-level al-Shabab commander responsible for several deadly bombings in the capital.

A US Africa Command statement said the air strike occurred on Saturday near Tortoroow, an al-Shabab stronghold in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia.

President Donald Trump earlier this year approved expanded military operations against al-Shabab, including more aggressive air strikes and considering parts of southern Somalia areas of active hostilities.

Al Qaida-linked al-Shabab is the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.

The US statement said the air strike was carried out in co-ordination with regional partners "as a direct response to al-Shabab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces".

The statement said no civilians were killed.

A statement by Somalia's information ministry said the government believes that Ali Mohamed Hussein died in the operation co-ordinated with "international partners".

Ali had served as the extremist group's shadow governor for the capital, Mogadishu, and had been one of the group's most outspoken officials.

"This individual was part of an al-Shabab network responsible for planning and executing several bombings and assassinations that resulted in the deplorable death of numerous innocent civilians in Mogadishu," the ministry statement said.

A Somali intelligence official said at least one missile struck a car in which the al-Shabab leader was travelling.

The US military in early July said it carried out an air strike against al-Shabab in Somalia and was assessing the results.

The air strike followed one in June that the US said killed eight extremists at a rebel command and logistics camp in the south.

Somalia-based al-Shabab earlier this month mocked Mr Trump for the first time in a video that called him a "brainless billionaire".

The extremist group has also vowed to step up attacks in Somalia after the president elected in February declared a new offensive against al-Shabab, which continues to carry out deadly attacks in Mogadishu.

The extremist group has also carried out deadly attacks in neighbouring countries, notably Kenya, calling it retribution for sending troops to Somalia to fight al-Shabab.

PA


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