الإثنين , يونيو 15 2020

US strike ‘killed al-Shabab chief’

Armed members of the militant group al-Shabab attend a rally on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia in this February 2012 file photo. Al-Shabab militants have been driven out of the group’s strongholds in Somalia

A leader of the al-Shabab Islamist group was killed by a US air strike on Monday, Somali officials say.

The intelligence chief, named as Abdishakur, was part of a unit responsible for suicide attacks, security officials said.

US defence chiefs did not confirm whether the al-Shabab leader had died.

Washington has supported an African Union (AU) force which has driven the fundamentalist group from strongholds across the country since 2011.

On Monday the US said it had targeted a “senior leader” of al-Shabab in the area of Saakow, about 320km (200 miles) west of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

BBC map of Saakow in Somalia

In a statement, the defence department said it was “assessing the results of the operation”.

But Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency said on Tuesday that the air strike had killed a militant it identified as Abdishakur, also known as Tahliil.

It said he had just replaced al-Shabab’s former intelligence chief, who was arrested a few days ago.

The agency added that two other al-Shabab members had also died in the joint US-Somali operation.

The development came three days after another top al-Shabab militant, Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi, gave himself up to the Somali government.

Mr Hersi, a leading figure in the militant group’s intelligence wing, surrendered to police in the Gedo region.

In June 2012, the US state department offered $3m (£1.9m; 2.5m euros) for information leading to his capture.

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