Somali militant leader, others killed in US drone strike
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A senior commander and other members of the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab have been killed in a U.S. drone strike in southwestern Somalia, Somali and U.S. officials and a militant commander said Thursday.
The attack Wednesday night near the rebel-held town of Bardhere was an operation planned by U.S. and African Union forces, according to a U.S. official who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. The joint force was moving toward the town when rebels advanced on them, he said. A U.S. drone fired on the rebels killing and wounding a number of them, he said.
One of those killed was al-Shabab commander Ismael Jabhad, a Somali intelligence official told The Associated Press. The official insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
An al-Shabab official named Abu Mohammed confirmed the attack but gave no details.
The U.S. has carried out many airstrikes in Somalia targeting leaders of al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaida.
Al-Shabab is responsible for carrying out a series of deadly attacks on civilians, government troops and African Union forces across Somalia. The group has also carried out attacks in Kenya and Uganda, countries that have sent troops to Somalia as part of the African Union force protecting Somalia’s weak federal government.
Al-Shabab militants have been pushed out of much of the territory they once controlled across the Horn of Africa nation, including the capital, Mogadishu. But the rebels remain a lethal threat, frequently carrying out drive-by shootings, suicide bombings and other attacks.
AP writer Lolita Baldor contributed to this report from Washington.