By Staff Reporter
Rear Admiral John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, said the US was assessing the results and would provide more information when appropriate. No further details were available.
A senior Somali intelligence official said a US drone targeted Ahmed Abdi Godane, al-Shabaab leader, as he left a meeting of the group’s top leaders.
The Somali official, speaking on condition of anonymity as the official was not authorised to speak to the media, said intelligence indicated Mr Godane “might have been killed along with other militants”.
The official said the attack took place in a forest near Sablale district, 105 miles (170km) south of Mogadishu, where the group trains its fighters.
Abdiqadir Mohamed Nor, the governor of Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, told The Associated Press that as government and African Union forces were heading to a town in Sablale district, they heard something that sounded like an “earthquake” as drones struck al-Shabaab bases.
“There was an air strike near Sablale, we saw something,”
Mr Nor said.
The US action comes after Somali forces regained control of a high-security prison in the capital that was attacked on Sunday by seven heavily armed suspected Islamist militants who attempted to free other extremists held there. The Pentagon statement did not indicate whether the US action was related to the prison attack.
Somali officials said all attackers, three government soldiers and two civilians were killed. Mogadishu’s Godka Jilacow prison is an interrogation centre for Somalia’s intelligence agency, and many suspected militants are believed to be held in underground cells there.
Al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack that shattered a period of calm in Mogadishu after two decades of chaotic violence. The attack started when a suicide car bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the gate of the prison, followed by gunmen who fought their way into the prison.
It was al-Shabaab gunmen who attacked the upmarket Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, with guns and grenades last September, killing at least 67 people. Al-Shabaab had threatened retaliation against Kenya for sending troops into Somalia against the extremists. Mr Godane said the attack was carried out in retaliation for the west’s support for Kenya’s Somalia invasion and the “interest of their oil companies”.
–The Associated Press