The U.S. military conducted an air strike today against a suspected terrorist leader in Somalia, a defense official said.
The strike in a remote area near the city of Baraawe targeted a militant described as a senior leader of al-Shabaab, the Somali affiliate of al-Qaeda, according to the official, who asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive operation.
The U.S. was still trying to determine whether the target was killed, the official said. The Associated Press, citing an interview in Mogadishu with an al-Shabaab commander, identified the target as Sahal Iskudhuq, who is close to al-Shabaab’s top leader, the agency said.
While the U.S. official declined to discuss how the strike was conducted, the U.S. has previously flown armed drones over Somalia.
Al-Shabaab, a militia that’s been fighting to establish an Islamic state in Somalia since at least 2006, claimed responsibility in September for the attack on the Westgate Mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi that killed at least 67 people.
The following month, U.S. Special Operations forces raided Baraawe, a port city located south of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in search of a suspect in the Westgate Mall attack.
Al-Shabaab, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist group, has been associated with al-Qaeda for several years.
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