A vehicle carrying senior members of an al-Qaida-linked militant group in Somalia was hit by a U.S. military strike on Monday, killing at least two people including al-Shabab's top explosives expert, a militant and a government intelligence official said.
A senior United States military official says there was a U.S. counterterrorism strike against a terrorist target in Somalia Monday but would give no further details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no authorization to discuss the strike publicly.
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An al-Shabab member who gave his name as Abu Mohamed said one of those killed was al-Shabab's top explosives expert, known as Anta. He said a drone fired at the car in Somalia's Middle Juba region. It was not clear how Mohamed would know it was a drone strike, except that he said no attack helicopters were seen.
A Somali intelligence official in Mogadishu said the attack occurred as al-Shabab members went to intervene in a clan dispute. The official insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to share intelligence, according to The Associated Press
Earlier this month, United States Navy SEALs raided a coastal Somali town to take down a Kenyan al-Shabab member
. The SEALs withdrew before capturing or killing their target. The target of that attack — Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, known as Ikrima — was identified as the lead planner of a plot by al-Shabab to attack Kenya's parliament building and the United Nations office in Nairobi in 2011 and 2012.
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If a drone strike in southern Somalia is confirmed, it will add evidence of the increasing importance Western powers view the counter-terrorism operations in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia. The East African nation has seen several military attacks — often reported as drone strikes — in recent years.
Al-Shabab militants attacked the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, in neighboring Kenya, on Sept. 21 with guns and grenades, killing at least 67 people
. Al-Shabab promised more attacks on Kenyan soil unless Kenya withdraws its troops from Somalia.
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