Somalia Governor Says Drone Killed Kenya Attack OrganizerMohamed Sheikh Nor
A drone strike in Somalia killed an al-Shabaab commander accused of masterminding the Westgate shopping mall attack more than a year ago in neighboring Kenya, said Lower Shabelle regional Governor Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur.
The attack targeted militants traveling in a vehicle near the southern town of Bardhere, killing Adan Garar and two other members of the Islamist militant group, Nur said by phone. “A drone attack with surgical precision has killed three al-Shabaab members in Abaq Xaluul village,” he said.
Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren told reporters that the U.S. carried out a counterterrorism strike against a “high value target.” The U.S. is currently assessing the results of the strike and has no details to release yet, he said. Warren said the strike did not involve U.S. personnel on the ground.
Since last year several drone strikes in Somalia, some carried out by the U.S., have left dead senior officials of the al-Qaeda-linked group, including former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane and intelligence chief Abdishakur Tahliil. The U.S. declared the militia a terrorist organization in 2008.
The attacks are furthering weakening al-Shabaab following military gains that drove rebels out of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, the Kismayo port, and other bases in the country’s south and central regions. The group still controls swathes of territory and stages deadly gun and bomb attacks.
Kenya, to the south of Somalia, has faced increasing attacks by the militants since sending its troops into Somalia in October 2011 to push out the insurgents, who are trying to overthrow the government there and impose a strict version of Shariah, or Islamic law. At least 67 people were executed when the group raided the Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in September 2013.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack in Kenya on Friday on the Mandera governor’s convoy, killing as many as four people. Governor Ali Roba wasn’t harmed, the Nairobi-based Daily Nation reported, putting the death toll at three.
“You can see that our Mujahedeen fighters are everywhere in Kenya and we will increase our presence unless you stop meddling in our affairs,” Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab, a spokesman for the militants, said on the pro-al-Shabaab Radio Andalus on Friday.